Thursday, February 26, 2009

God's Graces

This is going to be short tonight. We are hanging in there and have yet one more day together. So we are blessed.

Last night, we were able to go to church for Ash Wednesday service. The best thing about the service was communion and just remembering the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. I am looking forward to the Easter more than ever this year because of everything we have learned the past months on healing. I never knew before this walk with cancer that "by His stripes, we were healed". I never got that Jesus took the beating for our physical healing (& spiritual). A light has been turned on. It is exactly like the time when it clicked that Jesus died on the cross 2000 years ago for my sins- Deanna's sins.

Anyway... so last night at church, we were late and sat in the very back. We actually do that in case we need to leave. The most amazing thing happened during communion. Mary (don't know her) came over to Mike and asked to pray for him. Right there, she prayed for him and over him. It brought me to tears. Tears of joy not sadness. Mike wears this protective mask when we go in public to protect him from all the germs right now. So, we get the stares and not many people come up to us. But she battled cancer 7 years ago, and just knew. Now, at the same time she is praying over Mike, from another direction Chris comes over and prays for me. Again, I don't know him, but he prayed over me and Elizabeth. It was a well timed kiss from God.

Then today, guess what? An unexpected check came in the mail. This check was mailed to our house in FL and then forwarded here. It was written at the end of January. But I don't think it is any accident that it showed up today. An answered prayer.

Mike started coming out of the Chemo fog yesterday afternoon. We spent a few hours changing his needle at the Cancer Center and they drew more blood. Mike is yellow (jaundice) and they are checking his enzymes. It could be his Gilbert's syndrome.

Prayer needs:
Mike's blood counts to hold
Mike to eat and drink more
The jaundice to be related to Chemo and Gilbert's syndrome
Wisdom for me
Financial wisdom
Our house in FL to sell

Beautiful weather
A walk around the lake with Mike
Our computer didn't crash...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How easily we forget

I am amazed at how easily you can forget what Chemo can do. It has been over 3 weeks since our last round of Chemo. Mike went in on Monday and did his 5th round of Chemo. He was fine Monday night and then it hit sometime in the middle of the night. Mike has spent the last two days in bed other than getting up to go to the Cancer Center to have his blood levels checked. He hasn't put a bit of food in his mouth since Monday and he, honestly, hasn't drank enough water either.

He is more alert today than yesterday. The blessing in this is that the weather has been fabulous. There is a door in our bedroom that leads outside to the pool area. So both yesterday and today, I have left the door open. Somehow I feel better knowing fresh air is at least circulating for him. It is hard and lonely on days like these. I do run out and do some errands - like grocery shop. But I try to never leave the house more than an hour or so.

I have spent the afternoon today getting taxes ready to file. I am glad this comes around once a year. I really only have this afternoon. Tomorrow, the pace picks up at our house. Mike has a dr's appoint at 8:00 am and then over to the hospital for an xray. They will be checking on the stent placement to make sure that it is still in the correct spot. We will be getting an xray once a month. I need to be at school at 10:00 am to few a "health" film that they want to show the 5th graders. Friday we have appointments too and it is a early release day for Elizabeth.

Cancer.. I am trying very hard to suppress that alarm button inside of me. Mike has been on the morphine patches since the stent. Today he said he needed it because his stomach hurts. I asked, "stent hurt of cancer hurt." He responded that it was his stomach and not the stent. So we switched his patches and I am praying that it is the cancer dying from the Chemo. I will tell you what, someone needs to do something to help solve this cancer mystery. I just wish there was something that could just switch off the cells ability to multiply and grow. I don't know if it is just that we are more aware of cancer now that it has hit our family or if the cancer rates are growing that fast but everyone seems to have a cancer or a very close person with it. There is a new patient at the Cancer Center in the Chemo room. She comes in with her mom. She can't be more that 25 years old. It just doesn't make sense.

I have to say, now that we are really done with all the military paperwork (that I am aware of anyway), it is nice that it has taken that stress away. Now, the stress will improve SIGNIFICANTLY, once I know what we are getting paid for retirement and once that pay starts happening. Honestly, it is a very scary prospect knowing that the 1st is in a few days and we won't be getting paid. I praise God for savings, that is for sure.

Finally, one last thought, our house in FL. I am sure that the stress of hanging on to that house will replace the paperwork stress. We have had people look at it, but no buyers. The feedback is silly too. It is stuff you can't do anything about, like our deck. Someone didn't like the house because of the deck! That is one of the reasons we bought the house. In the end, I have to remind myself that God really led us to that house. It was one of those things. We will never recoup what we put into it because of the renovations that we did right after we bought it. It would be very nice to walk away without a loss, but that may not be possible either. I just need to keep praying that it will sell and that God will have it all under control. Who knows? Maybe we are supposed to rent it out or something! I can't imagine that being added to our plate right now, but if it is God's will, then who am I to doubt He will provide the energy to handle that too!

Prayer needs:
Mike to eat and drink more
Mike to start feeling better
The Chemo to attack only the bad cancer cells
Our house in FL to sell
Financial wisdom and guidance
Focus and motivation for myself

Great days
Good sleep for me for the past two nights
a Nap yesterday (and I still slept last night)
Ash Wednesday - the beginning of Easter season-- Oh, I can't wait to walk through Easter with everything we have learned the past few months. How much more powerful will it be to celebrate Christ's death and resurrection??? Can't wait!
Elizabeth.. What a blessing to us
Marvie for taking Mike to the Doctor's yesterday so I could get my eyes checked on
Mail!! Mail!! Mail!!... Thank you. The cards and notes are still powerful and still uplifting beyond words.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

It is all about moments

What a great weekend. Mike has not really thrown up since the stent placement. The TPN is working and giving him strength. I made dinner on Saturday night AND Sunday night. Mike actually ate some fish and salsa and pasta this weekend. We went to church. Elizabeth's team won her basketball game. Best of all, she spent all afternoon outside playing with friends. Money is tight right now, but our life is overflowing with blessings. We have had awesome moments this weekend.

It is such a different place to be in after the week. It was a very stressful beginning. The stent placement was a surprise. Neither Mike or I expected the pain and difficulty. It was very different this time. Due to the stent, Mike is back on morphine patches (50 mg) and he is not sleeping as well. He spent the first few nights leaning forward on pillows to sleep, but he is now spending at least part of the night leaning back. We also have a big caution light going on right now with Mike's port sight. It is slightly red and being watched very carefully for infection. We did the IV antibiotics on Thursday and Friday then they put us on oral antibiotics. Of course I spilt half the bottle, but hopefully Tricare will fill another prescription!

Mike did Chemo today and we are now home. Our Chemo lasts about 8 hours from start to finish. So it makes for a long day. Honestly, Mike sleeps through most of it. The premedication and anti-nausea medication helps that along. So far, no throw up. He is home watching the Food Network Channel and I have started him on the TPN. The Food Network has become a new thing with him. I am hoping that watching all the yummy food will stimulate his brain to crave some food. I would go as far as downloading a recipe and preparing it!

This might ramble on with no pattern, but I read the report in Mike's medical chart from the stent placement. This is what it said... pleasant, unfortunate 42 year old... Swear! For me, I think that statement speaks volumes about how Mike is carrying himself through this journey. He always says thank you, shakes hand with the Dr after the procedure, says please for pain medication, and is the man that your heart goes out too. As the doctors and nurses get to know him and his character, they are pulled toward him. Mike has always been quiet, but once you know him, you love him or at least respect him!

All of Elizabeth's test came back normal and her lesion is resolving. So we are leaving it at that and praying that we will not have to go through that again!

Cancer... we have met some incredible people on this journey. The one thing cancer does do is bring out the best in people. In the end, I think those diagnosed and those that work around cancer understand "today". The bible verse, "Give us this day our daily bread" really has meaning. I am in awe at God's working in these peoples lives - whether they know it or not. There is this lady (don't know her name) that was given 3 months to live 9 months ago. When she is not in the hospital (literally), she comes and volunteers in the Chemo room. She is an angel. Her cross shines brightly on her chest and in her eyes. There is Buzz who was given months to live 5 years ago. He walked in our room and gave us courage to do Chemo. He witnessed to us how Jesus has used Chemo in his life. There is Connor who is 8 years old battling a tumor that is invading his stomach and liver. We have never met, but I read his blog and understand everything so well. Life is so day to day. I have NEVER lived like that before. Goals, plans, vacations, next month, next year, when we have more money, when we have more time, after Christmas... you get the picture. I have even gone as far as planned my day to only have it fall apart faster than you can ever imagined. Mike and I have started using the term - VUCA day. V is for volatile. U is for uncertain. C is for confusing. A is for ambiguity. It is our little joke or smile for the day.

The whole thing is that VUCA days can be laughed at because that is a very earthly term, not a heavenly one. God knows our day before it happens. So amidst all the confusion or uncertainty, there is a sense of peace.. really. Because we all know the end, death. Period. The question is does your death result in eternal life in heaven or hell.

Did I tell you I got rear ended the other day? This is going to sound weird, but I think it was a wake up call from God. There was no damaged, but I smacked the heck out of my head against the seat. Instant headache and neck ache. I was sitting at the stop light praying for Mike and it happened. It hurt, but all I could think of is that in an instant my life could be over. I am not guaranteed to live to 80 and neither are you and neither is Mike. So we have to fight cancer with everything, but live at the same time knowing if our time is up, heaven awaits.

Prayer needs:
Mike to eat and drink more
The redness at his port to go away - no infection to develop
The Chemo to attack only the bad cells- and attack them hard!
Our house in FL to sell
Buzz - that the cancer will go back into remission and wisdom for Dr's.
Connor - that they can find something to stop the cancer
Financial wisdom
Better sleep for me

Elizabeth's test are negative
A meal from a stranger tonight
Well timed cards and presents today - thank you Myra, Dena and Robin. This was an awesome day at the mailbox.
Christian Neighbors
Sunny days
Another day

By the way, I am very close to finalizing all the military things... Praise GOD! We got our ID's, which was a blessing from God. It took us 3 days between facilities closings, a VUCA day, and driving to South Dallas, but it is done for 4 years! I got all the paperwork out for the SGLI extension and the Disability Insurance waiver. I even faxed the DD 214 today to Cynthia. Now, I just need to get our taxes together... One day at a time!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Mike here tonight.

A number of noteworthy things happened over the last few days.

Wednesday night I went to Bible study at church with Deanna and got to meet just one of the many groups that have been so generous with their prayer support. They are working onthe book of Jeremiah. There were several other families there that have been attacked by cancer. The disease sems to me to be an epidemic now-no family, it seems, has been left unscathed. I also walked into the kids area to pick up Elizabeth from her GA group. For some reason, this was a very big deal and meant a lot to her. I was just glad that my energy level has increased enough that I could get myself up there.

We got the results of the biopsy back that our gastroenterologist took during the stent implantation procedure. Negative for cancer! The oncologist believes that the swelling around the stomach/esophagus juncture is just tissue irritation from the nausea and acid reflux, rather than the cancer spreading. He's decided to stick with the present chemo formula, since it seems to be working after all. Monday should be our next chemo dose. This is really good news!

I had a bit of redness around my port site where the hook needles go in, so I'm getting some more anti-biotics-IV yesterday and today, liquid oral tommorow and Sunday. White count was also a bit low today, so I got a nuepro shot to give me alittle boost. Hemoglobin improved a bit from 8.7 to 9.2, so we may not have to worry about another transfusion, at least for now. We'll recheck it again tommorow.

I've had litle to no nausea for several days now, another huge praise, but I am having some pretty significant pain. It's funny because it's esophagus pain, but I feel it in my ribs. Another cancer trick is that you can feel something happening in a place other than where it is actually occuring. I've had to go back on the morphine patch--tried 25 units yesterday but couldn't sleep, was up all night with it, so we're going to 50 today. It seems to be working except when I have to burp or hiccup, which always brings a nice zinger that lasts about a minute. Hopefully tonight will be better.

Today we squeezed in a road trip to the Texas National Gurad Armory in south Dallas where we got three new ID cards. For some reason, this wasn't the significant emotional event I thought it would be. I supppose most of that got through my system on the actual retirement date. It was nice to be around military people for a bit.

Elizabeth is still battling her blister/lesion problem, but seems to be somewhat better. Deanna is tired, but doing well.

God Bless you all,

Monday, February 16, 2009

Stent and Elizabeth

WE had the best weekend! It was so great. We were blessed by visits from Rich, Bruce, and Buzz! Sunday was one of the best days in a long time. Mike was strong, he wasn't throwing up, and he even took out one bag of trash. In my book, taking out the trash is better than a diamond ring any day. AND... I didn't even have to ask! Moments like that right now, I just treasure.

However, tonight is very different. Mike got a stent put in today and he is in so much pain. Probably some of the worst pain he has been in. He is on Morphine patches and taking oral doses to make himself comfortable. I hate it. I hate it. We had to do the stent, but to go from such an amazing day to such a terrible day is hard to handle. On top of that, we have had what I consider a significant health development with Elizabeth.

I don't want to go into too much detail, but she has developed an ulcer type lesion over the weekend. We went to the Doctor this afternoon and then on to a specialist late this afternoon. The specialist said he wanted to biopsy the lesion and Elizabeth lost it. She cried and started shaking. She had to do blood work and everything. The plan right now is to wait on the cultures and blood work to come back (Wednesday). If nothing shows up, then we will proceed with the biopsy on an outpatient basis.

However, when I got home, I did some research on Tamiflu. She was put on Tamiflu Friday night and the lesion appeared Saturday morning. I think this is a reaction to Tamiflu and she is no longer going to be taking it as of right now. I do pray that is the cause.

So my day was very long and I am emotionally drained and very tired. But there were good things about today. I was able to read the word to Mike in recovery for about 2 hours. We read James and most of John. That was so peaceful to fill the room with the Word.

This is short and sweet tonight. I can tell you we will probably postpone Chemo. Mike is in so much pain and to start throwing up on top of it, I can't imagine.

Mike's recovery
The pain to ease on Mike - specifically in his rib cage and stomach region.
Wisdom in medical decisions
Elizabeth's health and the lesion to go away. That the blood work will reveal the cause
For Satan to leave this family alone
That we will serve God is ALL circumstances
Strength and sleep
Our House in FL to sell
Marvie for helping out all day at the house. First with Elizabeth and then with Mike
Pierre for helping out with Mike when things didn't go as planned

Flowers from the 623 AOC on Valentines Day. I will NEVER forget them.
Friends that take time out to visit us. It is like a breath of fresh air to us
Nurses who aren't afraid to speak Jesus with us
Prayer warriors around the world that are still lifting us up

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! Mike posting today. I hope you didn't wait till today to get your cards like I did.

For the first time in quite a while I had no medical appointments today. Elizabeth has a bit of cold and fever, so we also didn't go to her morning basketball. I enjoyed the delicious luxury of sleeping in till 1030! The sleep wasn't very high quality with waking up to be nauseous every hour or so, but it was still so nice not to have a morning rush.

A lot of good stuff happened today that we are very thankful for.

First, our new home health provider came to the house with our first week's supply of TPN. Tri-care made us switch providers when we retired, which we were pretty nervous about, but it looks like it's going to work out pretty well. TPN is the IV nutrition that keeps me alive until I can eat again. This new TPN seems to have some good qualities. We only have one bag, one pump, and one line as opposed to two of everything. You can hook up faster and there seems to be less stuff to screw up. It fits in a day pack, so I don't have to drag an IV pole around with me. The pump is simpler to operate and has rechargeable batteries. They seem to be on top of the ingredients too-they test your blood early in the week and adjust the contents to whatever your system is low on when they deliver the next week's supply at the end of the week. It should save me from having to swallow as many pills for assorted vitamins and supplements.

Next, Rich Gannon, my old Tiger squadron mate, was in town visiting relatives and took the time to stop by and see us. We hadn't seen each other in years, and it was great catching up.

Then, Bruce Beyerly stopped by with his son. They are driving around Texas visiting potential universities, and took the afternoon to visit and share dinner with us.

What a day! Two visits from B-1 brothers who are out there doing righteous work for America.

To top it off, my AFSOC brothers and sisters sent flowers for my wife. You guys are awesome!

My beautiful wife, Deanna, I can't say enough about her. Through these trials, her courage, perseverance, energy, have amazed me again and again. She has to take care of everything she used to do, everything I used to do, plus the additional demands of becoming a 24/7/365 medical care-giver. I don't know how she does it. She is like all the great women of the Bible rolled up into one stunning package. If our positions were reversed, I honestly don't think I could do half as well as she has, and continues to do. I think the Lord will someday richly reward her for her sacrifices.

Medical stuff. Tomorrow we'll go into the clinic for a blood count, and Monday we'll go over to the hospital to get another plastic stint put into my esophagus. There is also going to be some tweaking to my chemo formula.

Please pray for strength and peace for all of us, plus healing for Elizabeth-that she will be back up to speed for this coming week. For me? The healing miracle of course, and that my faith would be strong and patient to wait for His timeline. The nausea and lack of sleep makes me bite my tongue sometimes to keep from inappropriate words. No matter how this ends, I want my character to honor God. Otherwise our prayer requests remain unchanged.

Yours in Christ,

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Another obstacle...God is bigger

I feel like a bomb has been planted in the middle of our house tonight. And yet if I focus on it, I will forget all the blessings that abound. We have received phone calls from friends near and far today. Looking back, I think God sent them as encouragement to us. Pierre was with us at the hospital and God knows just the right people to be there at just the right time. God even gave us the nurse in Day surgery that is a believer and was with us during the first stent. We even have received well time emails today, all to encourage and to remind me to never give up.

So, the opening in Mike's esophagus is now filled with tumor again. Mike's upper esophagus is ulcerated. We have to make a decision about putting a stent in again. The GI doctor feels like the cancer is progressing. But the oncologist thinks we are making gains.

It just reminds me of Jeremiah 17: 5-18
This is what the Lord says: Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a slat land where no one lives.
But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.

I have been one teary eye girl today. I can't seem to stop the tears from rolling. But I do know that if I put all my faith in man (i.e. Doctors) that Mike has no hope - the statistics say it. But I trust in the Lord. He is our rock and strong tower. He is able to overcome this. He can lead us into right treatments, right decisions, or just heal Mike over night.

Oh and I got a parking ticket at the hospital that I now have to take care of with the City.

For decisions about the stent - whether to do a permanent metal stent or another plastic one. The biggest question is that Mike will have acid reflux all the time and there is a risk of death because of aspiration. Remember, the stent will go right over the flap that closes the stomach from the esophagus. Mike will not be able to lay flat due to that risk.

God to continue to manifest Mike's healing. I don't want this post to gloss over the fact that Mike's liver lesions are 50% smaller. Mike is no longer showing signs of liver failure (swelling etc) and that Mike is still able to lay flat and is not on pain medication anymore. Those are all very real signs of healing of cancer.

Mike to eat and drink more.
The new TPN to make a huge difference in Mike's energy level
For Satan to go away and take his fear tactics with him
For our house in FL to sell
For the biopsy on Mike's ulcers to be something easy to solve with medication
For Elizabeth - she blew up today for the first time. She revealed that she didn't want to talk about her worries because she didn't want to give me worries or to start crying. She needs to let things out
For me - strength, faith, wisdom

On more day as a family
Medical advances that can open up that closure in Mike's esophagus
Friends that called today
Pierre and Melissa -

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

More Prayer Coverage Needed!

Mike is under going another endoscope tomorrow to look at his esophagus and at his stomach for a few reasons:

1. to see if there is bleeding any where. Mike's blood count has dropped in one day from 11.3 to 9.7. That is a significant and quick drop.

2. The pain in his middle chest/esophagus area is worsening. He is also having difficulty swallowing again.

3. Constant nausea - to see if they can see any cause like a blockage or something.

The procedure is at noon. We will first go to the cancer clinic and get a CBC done along with a course of IV antibiotics, then we will head over to the hospital. We spent from 9 - 3 there today getting fluids, IV's, and doing blood work.

Mike is doing well and encouraging me that God has it all under control. Me? I am not going to sugar coat it. I am losing it. I find myself wanting to be angry at people just because I feel alone and then breaking in tears. Oh yeah... I ate a whole hamburger with cheese and mayo for lunch along with sweet potato fries just to make me feel better..... It didn't work.

Please pray for Mike right now and for the Doctor's and nurses and everyone that will surround him tomorrow. Please pray specifically that God will humble our GI doctor, that God can reveal His Glory by healing Mike to the Doctor's amazement, and that the GI doctor will have a little more softness with us. Pray that the scope will reveal a miracle. Pray for me and my strength and my walk with the Lord. I can't even describe how much it tears me up to watch Mike go through this and not be able to take any of that burden from him.

Please pray that our house will sell, if it is God's plan...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Still.... Counting on God

Well, today is another day. Mike and I went to see Dr. Khan bright and early this morning. We were unable to do Chemo today because Mike's White Blood Count was too low. He got a big shot and we will try again tomorrow. Mike lost weight this week. He is down to 154. We talked about the results of the CT Scan that we did almost two weeks ago now.

1. Mike had some "nodes" appearing in the top of his right lung. Dr. Khan thinks it might be related to the cold that Mike is still fighting. It could be the very early stages of pneumonia. We had tried an oral antibiotic over the weekend, but the pills got stuck. So we started a round of IV antibiotics through the office today. We will do it every day for the week. This is a good thing if you ask me. He has been coughing more and more and the phlegm is now turned from yellow to green. He doesn't have a fever, but I am sure that is not far away. (too much information?)

2. The liver lesions are cut in approx half at least those that are measured.

3. There is some thickening of the esophagus lining. We are starting to see signs of that again in Mike's ability to swallow. Right now we have an appointment with the GI doctor next week. Dr. Khan may opt to move that up.

Overall impressions, we are moving in the right direction. I flat out asked about the surgery, but Dr. Khan gave me the answer that I knew already... as long as there are liver lesions, surgery is not an option. I am grateful for that answer, because it gave me a specific thing to pray for.

I will tell you something that is interesting... Mike has been feeling very poorly all afternoon. His comment to me was, " I think they stuck some of the Chemo drugs in that IV." He is very tired. It is a little question mark to me. It doesn't seem like the antibiotic should do that. We will see how is blood work is tomorrow. Maybe the Chemo will be put off again.

We made some decisions today about his IV Nutrition. We are switching doctors and therefore TPN providers. It is a long story, but I feel like Mike will be getting better nutrition which I pray will give him more strength, more energy, and in the end maybe even throw up less. We have a goal to be off the IV nutrition by the summer.

We did get an approval letter today from the VA for additional $10,000 Service Disable Veterans Life Insurance. We found that we qualified for it and it is very inexpensive. Now that we are approved, I am filling out the paperwork to waive the premiums due to Mike's 100% disability. Then, I will fill out more paperwork for an additional $20,000 through this same program. However, the premiums on that policy can not be waived. But that is ok. Life insurance is a good thing to have while fighting cancer!!!

Finally, I have had a song in my head all day, "I am Counting on God". You know, as you go through the motions of the doctors appointments, shots, IV's, phone calls, insurance, paperwork, etc. you can almost really remove yourself from the whole process. "Be in shock" or have a sense of numbness as you listen to everything - I mean that in a good way. In the end, it is God that is in control and the one we are counting on. The one we are putting our hope in - all our eggs are in that basket. He knows the numbers of our days. That is the most incredible comfort and strength that we have. It is VERY easy to get afraid of "catching the flu" or another staph infections etc. We need to take precautions, but in the end, God controls the ultimate timing.

Prayer needs:
Mike to eat and drink more
Mike to gain weight
Mike's issue in the middle of his esophagus that appears to be getting worse to REVERSE!!
For God to completely heal all lesions in Mike's Liver
Protection from all virus's and flu bugs gong around for everyone in the family
For medical wisdom with what is going on with the IV antibiotic
Financial Wisdom in managing things as there is a gap between pay checks and retiree pay
Our House in FL to sell and for us to at least break even
Mike to have strength
Complete healing for me

Fran our Chemo Nurse
Elizabeth's gift of writing
Friends that are still with us
The Rippee's and everything they have done for us this past weekend
Time with Mom

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Rough Patch

I can not wait until life is normal again... please tell me it will be normal again. I am just so beat down right now. We are retired, which is great, not our timing but God's. This week has just really sucked. We started out by going to the hospital for blood on Monday. Getting out of the hospital on Tuesday. Going to our new PCM on Wednesday. Getting the flu on Thursday. Dealing with referrals/approvals with new PCM on Friday. Wondering what we should do about Mike's care this weekend.

I am down with the flu and had to pull on family to help. I have been running a fever and had body aches since Thursday. I am banished upstairs in hopes that I won't give this to Mike. Everywhere I turn people are coming down with it. I don't know, maybe I am a little depressed right now. It has become extremely evident how much I do and when you can't do it, it is scary. What if something happens to me? Honestly, if Mike didn't have cancer, I would be up doing things. At this point, I only have a slight fever and the Tylenol keeps the aches and pains away. I just can't take the risk that I might infect him. Worst of all, I am now behind in everything being confined to this room upstairs...laundry, cleaning, dishes, groceries, bills, etc... and it is the first time in our married life that Mike can not pick up my slack. Even when he was deployed he could help in some ways by paying bills or just being a strong voice on the other end of the phone.

Elizabeth has had some fun things this past week that I missed. She was in the Talent Show at school and did a Taekwondo presentation. She also had a basketball game this morning. Mike did manage to go to both things, but it wiped him out. He has slept most of the day today.

I am struggling with what to do about Mike's nutrition right now. The current place that provides Mike his TPN is not an approved Tricare provider. Which I am sure we can make the case of continuity of care and get it approved. However, the TPN that Mike is on, is not meeting all his nutritional needs. But it does have high doses Vit C and gluthione, which we feel is cancer fighting. However, I am starting to wonder if Mike is throwing up everyday because of his nutrition needs, or lack of them. We have to make the decision by Monday whether to switch to traditional TPN or try to fight to stay with what we are doing. I so wish Bill was still alive for some insight.

I have also missed a visit from Bill and Kyong this weekend since I am sick. That hurts more than anything. Visit from friends mean the world and just give us a breath of things beyond cancer. I was fortunate on Thursday to meet Angela for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory in Frisco. That was a highlight this week. However, I came down with the flu within 3 hours of that meeting and I am just praying I didn't give her the same lot that I have.

I know I need to end this with something positive so everyone doesn't think I am about to jump off the cliff. The silver lining... I haven't spent this much time in bed since I was pregnant with Elizabeth. I am caught up on junk TV. Most of all, we are still together as a family. God is good.

Mike to eat and drink more
Our House in FL to sell and we can break even
Mike to be off TPN by June
Medical decisions that need to be made... Pray that we make God's decisions that fit in His plan
Flu bug to leave this house
Cancer to leave Mike's body
Mike to gain strength
Elizabeth and her walk
To establish a new normal here

Mike is still here
People are looking at the house
We have options for Medical needs
Blood Donors

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Blood Donation Anyone? SPON047521

Well, I finally took the time to create an account for Mike at the Carter Blood Bank. I realize that most of our friends are out of the DFW area, but it never hurts right?

Mike is on his 4th pint of blood right now. We are still in the hospital. Again, I thought I knew what to expect and then I have to remind myself that this is "cancer" and the twists and turns will always come. So here is what happened yesterday. Mike's blood has been dropping since last Thursday. We went for our morning appointment with Dr. Khan and his blood level was at 8. So we were sent across the street to Medical Center of McKinney for a transfusion. The order was for 2 pints of blood and then go home. We got here about 12:30 and by the time the blood was matched and started it was about 5 pm. To make a long story short, the blood wasn't going to finish up until 1:00 am. So both Mike and I decided I would go home to sleep and then pick him up in the morning - this morning. The nurse was going to have discharge paperwork done and I could literally pick him up at the door. Well, it didn't work out like that. Mike's blood level went from 8.4 (hospital's reading) to 8.8 with two pints. His white blood cells also plummeted.

I got to the hospital and we moved to a private room (blessing) and waited for Dr. Khan to call. We saw Dr. Putcha who believes that this is a marrow issue since - side effect of Chemo - since there is no bleeding in stool or vomit. Plus his abdomen is soft. We got a neuprogin shot (someday I will learn how to spell it) to raise his White Blood Cell count. We also started two more pints of blood. The second one is just about to finish up and then we need to wait an hour and do another CBC. Then maybe go home??.. We are waiting on Dr. Khan to make his rounds so we know what is going to happen.

So one of the ironic things, it that I have time to post and catch up on some sit down things. First of all, many people have asked about giving blood in Mike's name. So I finally got on the phone and created an account with the Carter Blood Bank that serves the DFW area. For every pint that is donated in Mike's name (account number) he will receive credit for up to a year after that donation. I have honestly lost count of how many pints Mike has received since Oct, but it has to be around 18 to my best recollection prior to this hospital stay. So as of today we are up to 22 pints of blood.

Carter Blood Bank is serviced as far as Ranger out in West Texas and unfortunately they don't service the Abilene area.

Mikes account number for donations to the Carter Blood bank is: SPON047521
So this is our first day of retirement and we are sitting in a hospital room and watching TV. Not the perfect way to celebrate, but we are together.. one more day.
Kathleen, Micah 6:8 is Mike's favorite verse -
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
What better words to walk by, to breathe by, to live by - right?
Prayer needs:
Mike's marrow to create blood
Mike to eat and drink more
The cancer to continue to leave Mike's body
God to heal a small pain that is manifesting mid way up in Mike's Esophagus
Tricare mercies - not sure how this is going to work out due to the hospital stay starting on Active Duty and ending during retirement
To go home so we can make our appointment with our new PCM tomorrow in Plano
Wisdom with finances as we transition
Our house in FL to sell. I want to ask for the whole enchilada... that the house will sell and we can break even! God can do that too!
DD Form 2214 - we received one with the wrong date. We need a corrected one so I can do all the paperwork for SGLI extension and so we can get ID's.
Blood Donors
Family helpers
Income - God's great Mercy in this is that Mike is retired and we have an income as opposed to many right now that are being laid off
For the many gifts that have been placed on our door step from friends. Thank you Carrie and Thank you Kathleen
For Jeff and Wendy's visit this weekend. It was timed perfectly and we needed their help.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Last day of active duty in the USAF

Mike here again. Since today is my last official day of active duty, I thought I should post a little.

Current status is I am in the McKinney hospital waiting for blood. I'm going to get two units, which will hopefully help me feel a bit stronger. My body is weak right now; I get winded just walking from one room to another in the house. No chemo this week, just not strong enough to withstand it. I have a head cold/sinus cold that is draining yellow goo into my stomach and aggravating my nausea.

I have to admit that this retirement hurts more than I thought it would. So much of what I've done in life has been defined by my service. Who am I now? What is my mission now? I want to cling to active service to avoid these questions, but it is time to face them. I believe that God has a plan for me, but he hasn't revealed it yet. Not that I could do anything about it right now anyway until I get stronger, but still I crave to know what it is. I have to be patient though; God will reveal it in His good time.

What do I regret? I think that I worked too hard at the beginning of my career, and often neglected Deanna. There were many evenings and weekends that I was the only one in the squadron, working on some project or other. Projects that were so important that I've forgotten most of them. But I will never get that time back, and neither will Deanna. Hard work is important, but it eventually evaporates. But family is, or should be, forever. I also regret being a little too much into the technology, and not working hard enough to get to know the people I served with. Invest some time in the people around you, their life stories will astound you, even if they appear to be mundane at first. I found myself hungry for squadron command late in my career, because I honestly wanted to be in a position to take care of people. As a squadron DO, my primary job was to take care of the mission, but when my boss was unavailable, I occasionally was able to step in and do something good for someone in the organization. These occasions were some of the most satisfying in my career. Unfortunately, I never got the opportunity to command. There was always a competitor with a slightly stronger record who got the nod for this incredible privilege. This really hurts too, to get that close to the best job in the USAF, but never quite able to reach it. If you are a young aviator, and you think you only want to fly for your entire career, you should reconsider. I got to a point where I had pretty much done everything you can do in a B-1, and then I wanted more, but I hadn't done any of the career building things that lead to command. Don't neglect this part of your career.

Of course there is a tremendous amount of joy as well. The completion of many missions well done. The opportunity to teach several new generations of USAF aviators. The relationships forged in intense training and combat, some of which will last a lifetime. Places visited, and cultures experienced around the world and across the USA. The humble pride of patriotism, of being the recipient of the legacy of those who served before us. When random strangers stop you on the street and thank you for your service--nothing much compares to that.

Of course, you never know. When I'm stronger, maybe I can come back on one of those retired back to active duty programs. I'm also toying with the idea of trying to start a JROTC unit here in McKinney. They have three high schools but no JROTC. I met a student the other day who was commuting to a different city's high school so he could be in JROTC.

My thanks and best wishes go out to everyone I've served with on this USAF journey, especially those who have worked so hard to help me through this illness in recent months. God Bless you beyond your best dreams. In echelon, we carry on--Nothing can stop the US Air Force.

Yours in Christ,