Wednesday, July 29, 2009

You have to show mercy to the stupid

Well, other than buying the house that we will reside in for the foreseeable future, we have officially checked the civilian life box. Mike and I got our Texas's Driver's License today that included our voter registration. I am officially home and still not sure how I feel about it. I love Texas and I have loved claiming it all these years as home. I loved visiting every moment I could, but I think I am grieving the loss of "new adventures" that come along with PCS orders. I love going to new places and traveling. I have to admit that I am pleading with God to bring that back into our lives somehow. But if this is where God needs us to be, then I am here.

I have two funny stories about Mike today:

1. The painful, and I mean PAINFUL, wait for our Driver's License. I took us over 1.5 hours to get these things - or at least the piece of paper until they arrive in mail in about 8 WEEKS (yes.. 8 weeks. Can you believe that?). So we waited in this long line, and finally got to the front. Mike and I went to the counter together because we have all the paperwork from registering both cars yesterday, along with VA paperwork, and retirement paperwork. We get to the counter and the lady said in the nastiest tone, " I can only help one at a time. You have to wait back in line until the next person is available." We both gave each other the "look" that husband and wives communicate with and Mike went back in line after he gave me all the paperwork. The next thing we know, someone calls next and the guy behind Mike goes. The lady that is helping me said, "Sir it was your turn. You should have gone" in a very snotty tone and Mike responded, "She has all the paperwork. (meaning me)". She turns and under her breath is the most rude tone said, "You should have come and gotten it from her then." I turn and look at Mike and he is about ready to throttle the lady. I haven't seen Mike like that in a LONG time. We are not in the Air Force anymore that is for sure. I would blog her name, but then that is really nasty!

2. After our PAINFUL venture to the DMV today, Mike wanted to go to Big Lots to look at computer cases for the netbook. We are walking across the parking lot when a guy in his car is driving towards us. I continue walking and Mike stops me. I said, "What? He is driving through parking spaces?" To which Mike responds-- Sometimes you have to show mercy to the stupid. I laughed! So true.

We should here from MD Anderson in the next 24 hours and then the process will begin. That should keep the blog interesting for awhile! I do have to give kudos to Tricare. They did approve us to go to Cleveland Clinic. They would pay for the medical, but we would have to pay for travel and lodging which is fair. However, as Mike blogged yesterday, there were things that we really hadn't thought about that needed to be weighed in making our decision.

Thanks Kathleen for that prayer and to everyone who has sent cards. I am stacking them away for him. The best thing about the cards coming is that Mike thinks I have something up my sleeve for his birthday - like a surprise party. I love it because he hates the thought of it. I can neither confirm nor deny this report since I know he reads the blog :)

MD Anderson - Lord to go before us and make the path straight and handle all details
Mike to gain weight and strength
Better sleep for Mike
The tube feedings to start feeling better for him. They are uncomfortable and make him feel bloated.

Looked at a model home with Mike today
Swimming with friends for the afternoon
silly dogs
To the AF for the care, details, and fun. What a life it was. It forever changed me!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Houston Bound

Dear Friends,

After several days of struggling with painful heartburn, gas and reflux, Deanna was smart enough to have me retry Probotics. Not much sleep with the pain for the last few days, but this stuff works great. In the hospital , I can get it via IV, but at home only via pill.

The pill of course would never make it down my damaged esophagus, but now with the feeding tube, we can just grind it up and pour it in with some water. So last night, I was able to get some sleep. My wife, beautiful and fabulously smart as well.

Blood levels are fine now, except the white count is still slightly low. Will probably just do the Nexovar anti-angeogenesis drug until our Houston consults are complete.

After consideration of the possibilities for multiple driving trips to and from the Cleveland clinic, I decided today to switch to MD Anderson in Houston instead. It's considered in a tie for second place with the Mayo clinic right behind Cleveland for the esophageal surgery I want to evaluate, so it's a still a very good choice. And the closer distance should greatly relieve the logistics.

I put in my referral request today. Will let you all know when our first trip to Houston will be. Some side benefits include the fact that Deanna has a cousin in Houston that might be able to help us. Plus, Dodie Osteen, the author of my favorite cancer book, is in Houston, and I might be able to visit her in person.

The Houston visit may bring an ethical dilemma. If they evaluate me and are willing to do the surgery, should I go ahead and get it? It would give me a 90% chance or so of recovering almost all digestive function. But it also has a 5-10% chance of killing me. Which is most fair to my family? Continuing in this life limited but apparently safe mode I am in now with the feeding tube? Or gambling with my life to have a chance at getting an unlimited life back?

Today we registered our cars for Texas disabled vet plates, and tomorrow we should get our Texas driver licenses.

House hunting is still on pause until we get our VA loan eligibility certificate.

Had some time a few days ago to go over to the McKinney airport after the morning doctor visit. I checked out the FBO and even had a nice chat with the Airport Management Assistant. She brought me up to date on a lot of the events happening at the airport.

I still wonder if God wants me to do something with aviation when I am better. Could be Wright Flight, Angel Flight, maybe CAP or even AFJROTC. I am impatient to know, but I know He will reveal this to me when the time is right.

I found my pocket calendar the other day that had been misplaced with all the moves. Funny thing--you look at August 08, and it is full of the old life of a USAF officer on active duty. But turn the page to September 08, and it is full of the logistics of cancer fighting. One little page is turned, and life changes forever.

It also has the phone number of one friend who retired shortly before I was diagnosed. I'm debating whether or not to call him. I don't think he knows about the cancer yet. I don't know whether or not I should call him out of the blue only to bring bad news. I have one more friend like this, although I have lost his contact information. Difficult to decide about these two.

Elizabeth is in high gear preparing for her role as John the Baptist at a church musical. Deanna is very busy taking care of us both.

God Bless you all!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Shower of Goodness

Today is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it!

We have hit another mile stone today. Mike took a shower. This may seem absolutely silly, but he hasn't showered since we had the PICC line installed back in October. Mike stood in the shower until he got cold. It really is another miracle. Do you remember when Mike didn't have the energy to even stand long enough to brush his teeth? He now has enough to take a shower, shave, brush his teeth, etc.

Other than that, Mike's blood is good. His white blood count is still the same, but we are praying everyday that his marrow will kick in and produce those very precious immunity cells. We are still working the Cleveland Clinic with Tricare. We need a letter from our Oncologist to support the issue of going to Cleveland Clinic over somewhere "local". I think if someone asked me my opinion, as long as Cleveland takes Tricare Prime (which they do), then it shouldn't be an issue. We should have some choice in where we go under the circumstances. But I am working it, through all the correct channels and praying God will open the doors and pave the way....if it is His will.

Prayer needs:
Mike's weight to go up
Mike's White Blood Cells to start producing
God continues to heal and kill the cancer cells with Mike
Cleveland Clinic to open up or another avenue - God's Will
Our living situation - what is our next step? Where does God need us to be?

Joy Cruse and her wonderful blogs
Roxanne and Hal in FL who have taken such good care of us
Going to church as a family last night
Coffee with the girls and laughing and supporting each other

Monday, July 20, 2009

Moving Forward - small set backs - God's Hand

Sorry for the pause over the past few days. Mike is home and every day is better. The first few days were rough. Mike was moaning in his sleep and ended up sleeping in the recliner for a first few nights. Now, he is sleeping back in the hospital bed in our room in a semi reclined position. The tube placement was more painful than we both thought it would be. Mike is amazing though. He is such a quiet, calm and vigilant fighter. You can easily under estimate Mike due to his quiet personality. Underneath it is a determined warrior. I love it. I love him!

So the tube is so-so at this point. Mike is unable to get enough cans at this point. We need to build up his weight and strength again. We are going to the GI doctor tomorrow to talk about maybe doing a continuous feed/pump all night and then allowing him to eat by mouth what he can during the day. The problem is that he uses the tube 4 times a day, and he is full. So he is not eating extra through his mouth. I think this is a good solution and we may have to push for it. But I am getting good at pushing.

We have our appointment at Cleveland Clinic to meet with Dr. Cristina Rodriquez on August 6. All records, pathology slides, and scans are on the way up there. Everything is in place EXCEPT Tricare Referral. There could be a snafu there and this requires PRAYER for sure. When you are Tricare Prime, they want you to go locally first - which for us is MD Anderson in Houston. Make no mistake, MD Anderson is good, but from what we know and have researched Cleveland Clinic is better for the GI track issues. Dr. Rodriquez is well known and in fact got a "God appointed confirmation" of this decision again tonight. Things are falling into place to quickly to doubt that God is pushing us in that direction. Once again, Giact has offered us there support in big ways, to include lodging with some of their ministry partners in Cleveland.

Mike and I went to our first Cancer support meeting tonight - Beacon of Hope. It was great. The topic was nutrition, but the information we got from others was invaluable. The sad news is that they only meet once a month. I was extremely touched tonight by a gift for me. Mary Kay Satin Hands. A small gesture, but it just makes my heart just praise the Lord for his tender mercies towards me. I love how he doesn't forget my needs as well as Mike's and Elizabeth's needs. I also picked up books and resources. Information and cancer go hand in hand that is for sure!

We went to see Dr. Khan today and again some "Praise the Lord" moments. Mike's blood work is great. His platelets are almost normal and his red blood cell is normal. His white blood is a little low, but no shot. Dr. Khan wants to have his marrow try to kick back into gear. He felt no tumor and his liver is still soft. I was able to read through Mike's medical chart. (I do it all the time...again knowledge is never bad with cancer) I actually read through Mike's procedure report from the stretching we did in the hospital. I pulled it out of his chart and handed it to Mike to read. (See how bold I drives me insane when doctors don't let you look at your chart. It is after all about me or Mike in this case) Anyway, the report read that there was fibrous tissue that was difficult to get through and no visual evidence of cancer tissue. It also mentioned a 5 mm scar that appeared to be where the necrotic tissue was the last time. More physical evidence of the healing that Jesus has done. Cool huh?

God answered another care through Melissa. Literally, that morning, I was wondering and thinking about some upcoming needs for Elizabeth and mentally planning out how I could accomplish getting what she would need within our situation. I got a call from Melissa asking me if she could take Elizabeth with her daughter to get those needs. I paused to collect myself and gratefully accepted, hung up the phone and just cried. I cried because God is not only taking care of my biggest need with Mike, but taking care of the little needs as well. I have said this before, but Thank you just doesn't cover it sometimes. I look forward to the day when God uses this experience for us to give back to others.

Finally, I want to leave you with this poem:

A beautiful painting in the sky.
The Shepherd watches His sheep, dancing in the twilight.
And even if in the night, one goes astray,
He looks for her and looks for her 'till noon day.
Know, lost sheep, you won't be left behind,
For the Shepherd loves you,
He will comfort you in the moonlight.

Prayer needs:
Mike's nutrition and Gtube
Cleveland Clinic Referral from Tricare
God will reveal where he needs us to reside

Elizabeth is back and she had an incredible time
Elizabeth wrote that poem for her teacher one morning at school for her teacher's birthday. Her teacher emailed it to me last week and it was such a gift to see the Holy Spirit at work in her!
Our dear friends in FL and everywhere
Jeff and Wendy are on their way to Germany. That is not the praise. The praise is that God put them in Abliene when He did and for everything they have done for us. It got to the point where Jeff had a honey-do-list from both his wife and everytime he came over here. No man should have two women give him a honey-do-list ! :)

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Mike is home and it is right on time. I could tell walking into the hospital that the stay was starting to take it's toll mentally. It was time to go, even if it meant leaving a day early. He is still in pain and walks like I did after my C Section, but I am praying that each day more strength will come.

We got a 2 week delivery late tonight of the food for his feeding tube and we are both trying to figure everything out.

Prayer needs:
Strength for Mike
Wisdom with the care and nutrition with this feeding tube
Less pain and quick recovery for Mike
Sleep for Mike - he looks so tired.
Elizabeth - she stayed at the beach and won't be home until very late on Saturday. Pray for her protection, joy, and heart
Me - I really miss Elizabeth!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dedication to Mike

Mike is doing ok today. He is in some pain and took morphine last night and twice today. However, today he took 1/2 of the prescribe dose. That is encouraging and I believe that tomorrow will be even better.

I had the opportunity to be Mike's patient advocate with the doctor today and was able to get some answers both Mike and I liked about the feeding tube vs TPN. There was a lot of confusion, but in the end, Mike will be taking 2 cans of liquid food 4 times a day. We finally tried out the tube tonight and we were able to get one can in with no effects (so far!). That is an absolute praise. He will do another one at 9:00 tonight. It was a little odd to watch and I won't go into details but modern medicine is amazing sometimes. I am praying this tube will be the start of better things to come. Once the site has healed over, Mike will be able to take showers again. He hasn't been in a shower since October. He has done baths and sponge baths, but sometimes there is nothing like standing in the shower having water pour down over you.

I am keeping this short because our dog woke me up in the middle of the night with the growling and all out barking attack at something in the backyard (probably a cat) and woke me up at of a deep sleep with a surge of adrenaline. It took me over 2 hours to fall back to sleep. I am done but I wanted to update everyone on Mike.

Finally, we got a great thing from Doug (and Dena) Howard via email tonight. Click on the link below, it is awesome.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Procedures done - God moving

I just praise Jesus for today for a few reasons. First and foremost, Mike came through everything just fine. He is in some pain and tired, but for the most part doing extremely well.

The Radiologist that installed the port and G Tube said something that I thank Jesus for again. I asked flat out if he saw any cancer. He explained that he just puts air into Mike's stomach and sees shadows, so he can not know for sure. However, Mike's stomach expanded as a normal stomach would and he saw nothing that would indicate it. Again, his job was not to look for cancer, but I will praise Jesus for that encouraging news.

I also was able to meet a young spouse today whose husband has melanoma that spread to his lungs. He is 36 and she is about the same age. We talked just briefly and I got her phone number. She asked about how old Mike was and she just looked so lost for lack of a better word. (I recognized that look immediately...actually I felt that look and my heart broke for her). Her husband was about to get a mediport to start the chemo and radiation. I really want to connect with her soon to help in some way. I had to leave her (alone) and go be with Mike, but I felt God spurring towards her and I am glad I listened.

Third, God is moving again. I feel another wave surging urging on a path. There is a lot of work to be done, and I will post more on that later.

We had a great nurse intern look after Mike in the room after he got out of surgery. He was itching and she washed of the antiseptic on his skin. Somehow we mentioned cancer and she asked what kind. Mike despite his lucid state pulled out his blue ribbon again and told her about God's miraculous work. She then prayed over us and great healing prayer. God is so good to send His angels to us.

I called Kay Creaseman for a few things that we needed (pathology slides) from Eglin. Kay was our active duty case manager. I haven't physically talked to her for a couple of months, but hearing her voice was so joyful and full of emotion. I felt so comforted just hearing her voice. Words can not express the gratitude of everything she did for us. Someday I will make a special trip just to hug her. I teared up a little bit when I hung up. Good tears..

Elizabeth made it to the beach with Papa and I hope is frolicking in the water as we speak. Better yet, maybe riding the Jet Ski in search of her dolphin pod. She deserves to just go and do what she loves there. She is really an amazing kid.

Mike is done with IV antibiotics and might go home tomorrow. I say might because there are some things we need to figure out with this feeding tube and TPN. The GI doctor hasn't been that forthcoming with some information and I spent time on the phone trying to figure things out. He wants Mike to go home on full blown TPN and using the feeding tube. I guess the feeding tube will take a little while to build up to the calories he will need. In the meantime, he will wean down on the TPN. However, Mike doesn't want to use his Mediport for TPN because he doesn't want to get another infection. We need the Doctor to make the rounds so we can see him in person. Please pray for wisdom and Godly intervention here.

Me?? Just tired, but am empowered by the Holy Spirit at the events that have taken place today. (and have developed a nice fever blister on my lip!! Stress maybe?? UGH!!)

Prayer needs:
Mike -pain
TPN/Feeding tube issues
Rest for both of us
Protection for Elizabeth while we are apart
My new friend - that God will give her strength for today and hope for tomorrow
God will orchestrate all the details of medical maneuvering to include the Referral for Tricare to go through without issues

See list above for the praises for today!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Day over - 1/2 procedures done

I called this picture - Recovery Snuggle. After Mike woke up, we waited awhile to move back upstairs. Elizabeth crawled into bed with him and feel asleep. Of course, then Daddy fell right asleep as well. Precious Gift for sure!

The best laid plans right?? Didn't work today. Mike was able to get the scope done on his esophagus around lunch time. Our regular GI doctor couldn't do it so we used his partner. They were able to stretch Mike slightly, but were unable to push the camera/scope through into his stomach. This doctor is very conservative and Mike was adamant about not pushing things due to the findings the last time. We were not able to get a biopsy either. All the GI doctor saw was scar tissue, not cancer tissue (praise!). We were able to catch up with our friends in the Day Surgery

I have to list the "God's Blessings" from today

1. Mike did not wake up in pain from the procedure. First time ever.

2. Elizabeth was with us the whole time. Things happened quickly and she walked with us down there and stayed with me in day surgery while we waited. She was such a blessing. We had Laughter, snuggles, and walking as a Christian lessons. Mike woke up and she was playing the submarine game on the Netbook. Mike started speaking to her in German asking her how many Uboats she sunk. It was funny to see the look on the nurse. She also engaged Mike right away talking about the game and he woke up quicker than ever before. My precious Lord gave us a precious gift over 11 years ago.

3. The scar tissue... I had a dream/vision a few nights ago that the blood of Christ was dripping off of Him on the cross and into the back of Mike's throat. I know it is gross, but I can still see it very vividly as I am typing this. I know Christ's Blood trumps cancer every time :)

4. Elizabeth has been struggling with the question "How do you know if you are really saved?" and we were able to engage that question in Day SUrgery with her. Mike told her it is by the fruits of the spirit Galations 5:22-23 and by your love of fellow believers (By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another John 13:35). Mike told her that other people have told us of her kindness and other fruits and we know she has love for others. It was great to see the light and the flood of understanding show all over her face.

So tonight we are resting and praise God for His care and His blessings ..

Prayer needs:
Restful night for everyone
The procedures tomorrow
Elizabeth - she is leaving on a plane with Papa tomorrow to go to the beach for a few days. Pray for protection, fun and no homesickness
Me - Elizabeth is leaving a a plane with Papa. I have never had her that far away and I pull more strength from her smiling face than I care to admit.
God to continue to hold back the cancer
Cruse Family as they say goodbye to Connor's earthly body and as they rejoice and celebrate his place in Heaven


All of the above and Tony is home after 14 months is the Sandbox. Praise God for his protection!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Tomorrow - Procedures and Prayers

I has been a great weekend even though Mike is still in the hospital. The Webbers were here and took control of Elizabeth and allowed me to be with Mike at the hospital. He is doing well but is a walking pin cushion. He is down to the last vein in his arm. He got stuck 8 times today to get that vein. His arms look awful. They are bruised in every spot imaginable. But Mike's spirits are still good. He refuses to be in the hospital bed, so Elizabeth and I take that over when we go. He sits by the window, plays on the computer, and today is reading the paper.

As of tonight, Mike is not on the schedule tomorrow for surgery. However, they expect him to be on the revised scheduled at 6:00 am. So I don't know what time all the things are happening, just that they are supposed too. So my plan is to be at the hospital by 9:00 am to wait. Earlier, if Mike calls. I don't know what to say, but there is a little fear of the unknown and what they might find. I read this devotional yesterday and again today:

Ephesians 6:17 - And take the helmet of salvation; and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.

So take upon you the full armor of God; the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the loins girded with truth, feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace having the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit.
Yes, My people, this is a hand-to-hand combat. You shall stand against the foe face-to-face. You will not turn in retreat least you be slain; for their is no armor to protect the back. The coward will perish.

This may sound kind of harsh, but it really stopped me and had me dwelling on some thoughts. You don't know how bad I want to go back to the way things were. To retreat, especially when days like tomorrow are ahead. When I don't know what to expect or when I know Mike will be in pain and there is nothing I can do but rub his head or hold his had. But, the reality is we are in combat and there is no retreat. Well, there is retreat, but without fighting Mike will perish. So it is kind of black and white. Take up the FULL armor of God and march forward and watch what God will do.

Prayer needs:
Sleep tonight
Satan to be bound
The doctors, nurses, procedures
Mike will clot - his platelets were up to 81 today. 75 is the minimum they could be for the procedures
God to protect his esophagus and keep it from perforating
There will be miraculous discoveries
The cancer will continue to shrink under the power of God!

Looking for houses

Friday, July 10, 2009

Still counting on God

Mike is still doing well in the hospital. He is actually bored and lonely. He is playing with computer gadgets and such, but needs to be home. I can see it in his body language. Unfortunately we will be in the hospital until Tuesday at the earliest. Right now, Mike is scheduled to get his feeding tube and port on Monday. However, the doctor is out of town, so it may change to Tuesday. He will have to be in the hospital for 24 hours after that procedure.

Mike got a visit today from Craig Church, a minister from North Carolina. I met him in the entry of the hospital as they were leaving. It was a brief encounter, but I felt a presence with him. One that makes you want to just be hugged and that you know everything would be ok. I can only take that as the Holy Spirit.

Today is a day that I am lost in thought. Connor Cruse is sitting in Jesus's lap as I type. This incredible, courageous 8 year old fought cancer with everything he had. I was driving home from the hospital tonight knowing that Joy and Tait were doing the same thing. It hurts. Elizabeth and I talked about Connor and heaven. Cancer is a beast. Words can not express my thoughts right now. But here is what I know... I praise Jesus for Connor's life. I praise Jesus that He walked Connor home. I praise Jesus for Joy and her incredible strength that I have pulled from more than she will ever know. I praise Jesus for the awareness that Connor's battle has brought to childhood cancer and the funding that has been raised because of his struggles. Thank you Jesus for giving Connor to us for a short time.

Prayer needs:
Mike's platelets- why are they still low? This does worry me.
Mike's mental health being in the hospital for so long
Mike's esophagus - that it will open up by God's hand
Rest for me..
Elizabeth and I to stay healthy with the funky hours we have been keeping

Hospital visits

Connor's website -

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Surrounded by saints

Dear Friends,

It's amazing how fast a microscopic enemy can completely take you down. It reminds me of some of my martial arts friends who, in a quick blur of motion, could put me on my back so fast that I couldn't even see how they did it.

The symptoms were identical in kind to previous staph infections, so I was fairly confident that it was staph even before the tests confirmed it. But the symptoms were worse by degree. Naked-and-wet-in-an-ice-storm cold one minute, trapped-in-a-sauna-stuck-in steam-heat-mode-hot the next.

Even 1000mg doses of Tylenol couldn't keep the fever much below 102. Thankfully though, within an hour after they removed the PICC line, all that ended. I am so much better. Perhaps Tom's theory about fevers fighting cancer is true. Maybe it was a gift from God, another schwacking for whatever cancer cells are left.

We're seeing so many of the old familiar faces again, but making some new friends too. I told one assistant my story while she was working on changing my bedding. She had a remarkable story to tell herself. She had knowingly married a man with terminal cancer. They had nearly 10 years together before he passed away. What great love she has in her heart! Caring for a spouse who gets cancer is one thing, but signing up for it from the start is something else. Here she was, a saint working on her nursing degree, changing my sheets.

Another assistant started helping tonight, with a wrapping around one wrist. I asked her how it happened, to make conversation. It turned out she was hurt trying to restrain a violent patient in the hospital. Another saint, hurt trying to help someone.

I'm working on my second and last unit of blood right now. Two more saints whose names I will never know.

These saints are all over this hospital!

We will likely have a little surgery Monday morning: install a mediport; install a g-tube; survey the esophagus and stomach; stretch the esophagus if it appears safe to do so; collect a biopsy specimen of anything that looks like live cancer cells (for HER-2 gene testing).

I've been leaning heavily on Jesus the last few days, and He has held me up! Thank You Yeshua.

Treading with saints,

Darth DaDa

We took this picture tonight with Scott's cell phone. The lighting isn't that great, but this is a funny story.

My heart goes out to Mike. Without the PICC line, he is being stuck a million times a day. They needed a designated line for his PPN (peripheral nutrition) so they started another IV line in his other arm. It was also decided to go ahead and give him 2 more units of blood. So with the antibiotics, fluids, blood, and nutrition he is a mess of tubing on each side of the body.

We were talking with Scott tonight, and Mike said he feels like Anakin Skywalker when they were turning him into Darth Vader because he is hooked up on each side of his body. If you look at the picture, you can almost see it. Especially with the black t-shirt.

You know what else I see in this picture?? Another visual miracle. Notice Mike is laying flat on his back. He couldn't do that 6 months ago. He also pulls himself up to a sitting position like a normal person does.. using his abdominal muscles. He couldn't do that 6 months ago either.

Mike is doing well, but will be in the hospital until at least Monday when they can put the port and feeding tube in. It is just the nature of the beast with the peripheral IV and the nutrition and antibiotics. We are not going on vacation. But Elizabeth will fly with her Papa next week to stay at the beach for 3 days. But, in the end, God has been so good and Mike is still here. A vacation is a small and easy sacrifice to that.

Also, Mike downloaded Skype to his netbook and is able to do video calling now. We talked to Doug Howard yesterday. So if anyone out there wants to video call with Mike, just let us know and we will give you our username. You can download Skype for free.

I am off to bed...

Prayer needs:
Rest for Mike.. the alarms go off all the time with the 4 -5 different IV's he has going
God's continue healing of the cancer during this extended treatment break
Medical Wisdom
Financial Wisdom
Parental Wisdom!!

Friends that pull out your trash cans for you
Nurses and vampires that are so caring!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Monday morning - better

Mike is doing much better this morning. He got up, cleaned up, changed into street clothes, and talks to me! His fever is gone and his vitals are good. His heart rate is down to 70 and it was around 125. The doctor that is over Mike while he is in the hospital has been by already. Mike's blood culture indicates that infection is not only in his PICC line (that was removed) but also in his blood stream. They take blood cultures from two different sites/veins and on opposite sides of the body if at all possible. That is how they tell the extent of infection. What all this means is that they will not put in another PICC line, feeding tube, or Port until the infection is gone. Any foreign object placed in the body during an infection can host the bacteria and cause recurrence.

Now the crutch is that Mike has a peripheral line and he needs IV antibiotics and nutrition. He can not leave the hospital with a peripheral line. So we may be here awhile (Friday maybe earlier).

Vacation? I don't know. I don't want to give up on it because it is so important to Elizabeth. She wants to go back to the beach to fish and see her dolphins. I also think there are some issues as far as leaving Florida so quickly that make her want to go more than usual. That is what makes the decision so hard. She could go without us, but I also know that she will be fine for a few days, but not for the 9 days she would be gone. I just need to keep praying that God will make the decision clear.

I keep thinking about my prayer requests on Thursday... I wonder if this is the roadblock....

Prayer needs:
Wisdom for the doctors
Wisdom as parents
Strength and nutrition for Mike
Esphogus to open and platelets and RBC to increase

God answers prayers

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Latest update

Mike had an ok night. He was up a lot due to people coming in. His fever also spiked in the middle of the night. He still has one this morning. He is sleeping a lot too. As much as I hate to say it, this infection seems a little different than the last one. The last time (April) Mike was much more awake and verbal. This time he is just tired and sleeping. There are some concerns in the back of my head... his platelets in the ER were 57, down from 70 on Thursday and his White Blood cells were around 5, which is normal. With a 104 fever, you would think his WBC would be off the chart or at least high to indicate they were kicking in to fight an infection.

I also could kick myself for not cluing into this sooner. Friday, Elizabeth went to celebrate Alex's birthday from 1 - 8 pm. Mike and I rented a movie and watched it back in the bedroom. I looked over at Mike and thought he doesn't look right and I asked him how he felt. He said fine. We went to bed Friday night and he curled up next to me and said he was cold. His hands were cold but his legs were hot. But we both fell asleep pretty quickly. I think Mike had a fever for over 24 hours before I took his temperature. Things have been going so well that I think I forgot how to see small changes that add up.

We have yet to see any doctors since we left the ER. My gut is that they will probably pull his PICC line soon. The initial blood culture (first 24 hours) should be ready this afternoon.

Please continue to lift us up in prayer before Jesus, the true healer.

UPDATE: Mike's platelets are down to 45, his WBC is down to 4.0 and his Red Blood Cells are down to 9.5 --- please continue to pray something is going on......

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Room without a View

We are up in a room now. However, the room has a window that looks out over the roof and a big air conditioning unit! No fireworks for us this year. At this time of the year, I would much rather have air conditioning anyway:)

God continues to be here in very real ways. Mike's fever was normal at the last temperature check. He will be on IV antibiotics twice a day and will probably be here for a few days. Honestly not much will be done over the weekend due to the holiday. Monday is probably when everything will start happening. I don't know what this means for the procedures or for our vacation. When Mike is not sleeping, he continues to tell everyone that he is supposed to be dead and that Jesus has done remarkable things. He makes me smile every time. It is his blue ribbon that he is showing off to everyone!

So in the meantime, we will rest knowing that we have good care and that God is watching over us. Please pray for a restful night for Mike and that his body will continue to fight... Fight the infection and fight the cancer. It is 4th of July?? That is what we are celebrating, brave men that fought against all odds to break free.

Prayer needs:
rest for Mike
His Body to fight
Doctors to have Godly insight to diagnosis and care
Elizabeth to stand strong

Insurance and medical care
A bed in this hospital
Friends and neighbors and family

Update on Fever

We are in the ER waiting results of all tests. Mike has been poked, prodded, stuck, and had all the tests you can think of. We got here and his fever was 104. That freaked me out a little bit. He has never had it that high before.

Mike is confident that it feels like another staph infection. He has those uncontrollable chills and is extremely tired. He isn't in any pain other that from all the sticks and peripheral line they started in his hand.

We did praise Jesus that the first person we saw was Marty - our personal vampire. She does all the blood draws and takes tremendous care of us.

So we are waiting and praying. Please pray that we can find out what this is and that this is NOT MRSA.

Prayer needed - Fever

Mike didn't sleep well last night and has a fever of 100.4. We are now going into the clinic at 1:00 pm today and then we will see what happens from there. We could end up in the hospital. I am asking for prayers that the fever will leave and that Mike's body will fight off whatever is going on.

We are going to send Elizabeth up to the Lake with Melissa and hope that we can join her later on today. I praise God for friends, family and doctors that answer the phone!

I will post more as I know more... In His Hand!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Throwing our whole being into winning

See? I told you I would post today.

We were able to make the doctor's appointment today and things are in motion. Mike told Dr. Khan we want to go to the Cleveland Clinic for a consult and second (or third or fourth? who is counting anymore) opinion. Dr. Khan was very agreeable and his office has started the process for that event. We need referrals in place and reports faxed over etc. We are hoping that we can go sometime in August if not before.

Mike's platelets are up to 70 and now we are going forth with making the arrangements for a new port and a feeding tube. I am nervous about the feeding tube. We are actually getting a G Tube which is inserted in Mike's stomach. We are trying to by pass the esophagus which keeps closing up like clock work every 3 weeks. The feeding tube is exciting on one hand. Mike will be able to take medicine and juices and so many other things that we have not been able to do. It is very scary on the other hand. There is a risk that the cancer can grow along the tube, even shutting off that tube. I am still asking if this is God's will for Mike. It is a new and untried thing in this road. We are both now very comfortable with PICC lines, IV's, and Ports. Feeding tubes, not so much. But Mike will be able to shower and he will now no longer need to carry around the IV bag 14 hours a day. Prayer is all I can think of with this one.

We will be getting a Port during the same procedure. This means that Mike will wean off the TPN and eventually get the PICC line pulled. Once all these procedures are in place, we will start hitting other therapies in this Cancer Journey. However, it is still one day at a time.

We have plans for the weekend that include a night at the lake. We are both looking forward to it and I am still amazed at God's hand.

Vacation?? Maybe... We are supposed to leave on Friday. It depends on the procedures. If we can get them done Monday or Tuesday, then Mike will probably be able to go. If they want to do them Thursday or Friday, we will just postpone until after our vacation. Again, prayer. Wait on God to answer.

I came across this great devotional that I had to share. It is our journey past, present and future. The message that went with this devotional is Psalms 30.

O My child, do not weep. I am doing a beautiful work. Stress and pressure and pain are often the path to victory and understanding. Penitence is a mother to purity and contrition a father to total consecration.

I am in the midst, and I am a strong deliverer. You need not be concerned. You must not be sad. Courage is the greatest contribution you can make at this point. To be strong now will make the part of recovery easier. Faith is an essential ingredient in every solution.. often it is the solution itself.

Never underestimate the power of FAITH. Faith is your ability to bring Divine Action to bear upon any given situation. Hold fast. Trust. Unseen angels assist you. Doors are opening to let you pass into safety.

Pour all the intensity of your soul into serving Me and you will receive great consolation. It is My way provided for you solace and preservation. I will bring you other mercies as I see you have need.

Be Strong! I will measure the trials according to your strength and My mercy, but I expect you to stand true. No one can do this FOR you.

It is your supreme hour of destiny. Throw your whole being into winning.

Prayer requests:
Protection and that God continues His healing in Mike
Wisdom with these medical procedures. We feel like this is the right step, but are nervous. We ask for confirmation or that God puts up road blocks.
Cleveland Clinic and or the next step in this journey. That doors open for truly miraculous results.
That glorifying God will be our focus in all the upcoming journeys.
Details.. God will handle all the details both medically and for our living situation.

America - Happy Birthday and thank you to all those who stepped out in Faith so long ago.
Dear friends
Firework stands... Wow! The stuff is amazing
One more day

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Catch up blog

It has been almost a week since the last post and there is so much to report that it is overwhelming to start. It is always good to start with the very real and tangible answers to prayers.

1. Our house is sold in FL as of today. Done. Thank you God for answering that prayer.

2. Mike is hungry. I have always asked that we pray that Mike develop a hunger and actually want to eat. Thank you God for answering that prayer.

3. VA is done (for now). We were able to make all the appointments and now the Doctors will send the reports to Waco and we will probably here from the VA about those finding in September.

4. Mike's platelets are slowing improving. They are at 67. Thank you God.

5. Mike is up to 175 pounds now. Thank you God for giving him strength little by little.

It is funny though how ad mist all these incredible gifts, that there is still some pretty intense sadness. Selling our home is Florida is devastating both on a financial level and on a emotional level. When I called to tell the realtor we would accept the offer on the house, I broke down and cried. (I am tearing up writing this..). There is so much emotion wrapped up there and the fact that the last time I saw my house I thought I would be back. But I gladly sacrifice the house (and our financial investments) in exchange for Mike. I have prayed that the new owners will be blessed there and that they will experience great Joy and Life within those walls.

There is also the shock factor too. Maybe numbness. Maybe now what? Actually we wait. Wait first of all on the Lord to show us our next step. Wait on the official paperwork so we can reapply to the VA for another eligibly certificate. Wait on blood levels to improve. The best way to say it has already been said .... Be still, and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10).

The best thing about the past week have been the incredible angels that have visited us. Carol met us at Panera for lunch last week. I wish it could have lasted longer, but she needed to get back to Waco and we needed to deal with the house closing/documents. The Kiviojia came over Friday on their way to Eglin AFB. Again, it was a short stay but brought us so much joy.

Elizabeth got to go to a Swim Clinic on Saturday. The instructors where Josh Davis and Jason Lezak. Check out this picture:

That is Elizabeth with 3 Gold Medals around her neck. She said they were heavy. It was an incredible opportunity to spend a few hours in the pool with these athletes (and Christians) and she even raced them at one point... and LOST just in case you are wondering.

Mike. He continues to amaze me everyday. One thing in particular I want to blog about tonight. On our first trip to the VA, Mike was meeting with the doctor. The doctor asked how he was and Mike responds, " I am blessed. You are looking at a person that was supposed to be dead a month ago and I am still here. God is so faithful and done miraculous things." Of course I tear up (not in the good way). I still hate hearing that and just roll through a million emotions and thoughts. So we get in the car and our on the way home and I finally ask him, " Mike, how can you do that? How can you be so joyful, enthusiastic and just announce things so confidently." He responds, "That is what God wants me to do. Remember that we will live to declare the miraculous works of God. " (Doug's Mom - remember??) That really humbled me yet again. He is so right. Since that conversation, it has helped me tremendously. When we went back to the VA yesterday, he declared it over and over and I didn't tear up. The best thing is the response we get. We get encouragement. One doctor said that only He knows the number of our days. One doctor told us that he has a friend still alive 8 years later that had pancreatic cancer that had spread to his liver.

There is so much more to tell. Mike was asked to give his testimony at church this weekend. We are going to Lake for the 4th, so we can't. BUT I look forward to the day when he will. I will try to record it and post it somehow. I will try to blog more often. We go to the doctor tomorrow and basically find out if we are able to go on our beach trip next week. We also need to make some decisions about the feeding tube, esophageal stretch, port and a visit to Cleveland Clinic.

Prayer needs:

Pray that we will be able to hear God's audible voice for the next step in our journey in regards to a home and to medical needs.

Mike's esphogus to open up. It is very tight again and he can only do liquids.

Insurance issues - medical bills and the pain that they can be when they are not billed right

Our vacation. I really want to go, Elizabeth wants to go, Mike wants to be with us. We need divine guidance and protection and wisdom


That He is faithful to answer our prayers!

It is July 1, 2009 and Mike not only still here, but doing well!