Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Learning from Paul

I haven't posted in awhile. I have just been struggling so much lately. Struggling with the day to day of cancer. You start to watch every micro thing. "Mike why are you coughing?" "Are you okay?" Wondering why Mike is sleeping more today. Did you eat enough? Why didn't you gain weight? Mike's pulse rate is high, what does that mean? Mikes blood counts are down, now up, now down again. Mike's eyes look funny.. is that a rash or just a mark. UGH!!!!!!! It really makes one want to scream. It also pulls that cliff of depression closer on some days. There are days you just want to stay in bed and block everything out. You don't because the minute you give into that Depression will win. And Mike is just this incredible patient man. He doesn't get mad at me when I hoover over him or when I berate him with questions. I am sure he is bitting his tongue but I sure love him!

I opened up more than I probably should have to my dear friend Robin last night on the phone. She is walking through an incredibly difficult time after the loss of her precious baby Tessa. I love her for sharing openly with me about both the emotional and the spiritual side of her journey. For the last few weeks, I have needed to know all is going to be ok. No matter what, it will all be ok. When I hung up the phone, it was time to put Elizabeth to bed. We have been reading throught the bible chronologically since Easter. We have arrived at Paul's journey from Jersulem to Rome to stand before Ceaser. We got to the point where the boat full of prisioners left Crete (when Paul warned not to go) and got caught in horrible weather. They were throwing tackle overboard and were in dire straits. Finally Paul stood before then and said, (Acts 27: 21-26)

After the men had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: "Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.' So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island

This was meant for me. Paul was given his life, but he still had to go to the incredible struggle. If you read on, after this promise, their was mutiny, death threats, ship wreck, prisoners swiming ashore, and prisoners that couldn't swin floating on debris to shore. Paul was even bitten by a Viper once on shore. So all this struggle, doesn't negate God's ultimate plan and purpose. I am clinging to that and I thank God for reminding me through His Word.

Mike is hanging tough. We are in this constant questioning phase. His weight is down. His blood numbers are all over the place and his energy seems down to me. But his skin color and eye color look good and he can still swallow liquids and he is not in any pain. Chemotherapy was postponed again until next week due to these numbers. In a way it is a game of strategy and risk with treatment.

Prayer needs:
Mike - his health, strength, nutrition, weight
Godly (The Great I AM) wisdom for treatments
New house - the closing, the appraisal, the move, our finaces, my stress
Elizabeth and I - our health
Connor - my nephew - Swine Flu that he will recover and that it will not spread
Robin - my dear sweet friend!

Praise -
Robin - my dear sweet friend
A home of our own - what a praise...
The Word - Dear Lord, where would I be with it?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A New Home?

Dear Friends,

There is a lot to catch up on since the last post!

Medical. The second round of Vidaza seemed to hit me much harder than the first. I have had a lot of bad fatigue where the simplest of actions seemed exhausting. Plus some of the nausea. I've also developed some sort of upper respiratory cough/bronchitis thing...not really what you want when your white blood cells have been whacked pretty hard by chemo. So Monday, Doc told me that last week's 5 days of Vidaza was enough, and he thought I should start the rest period early and skip the last two days of Vidaza, which would have nominally been yesterday and today. Today's blood was somewhat low, so I got a medium sized white blood cell booster shot and left. I get tomorrow off, have to get a blood check Thursday. In the mean time, Doc is seeing if the insurance will pay for a couple of other chemo drugs that he thinks will not be as hard on me. So we could be trying something new as early as this Monday. After the clinic this morning, I was feeling a bit stronger, so instead of going straight home, I went to Lowe's to look at refrigerators. I stopped at every man's first stop in Lowe's of course--the riding lawn mowers. After a couple minutes there, I proceeded to appliances, but by the time I made that short walk, the fatigue hit again. I found a seat, sat down, and chilled out for about twenty minutes before I felt safe to drive home. These waves of fatigue and nausea sure are a pain in the kiester.

So, Mike, why were you looking at refrigerators and riding lawn mowers you ask? Good question. Well, in God's gracious timing, we have in the last few days got our pre-approval for the Texas veteran home loan program; and what appears to be the right house, in the right neighborhood, for the right price, has appeared. We currently have verbal agreement and expect to have a signed purchase contract by the end of today. It meets all our basic needs, doesn't bust our budget, and keeps Elizabeth in all the same schools as her friends and cousins, so that our support network should remain intact. And it's close to where we are staying now, so the move should be mercifully less painful. We expect to close around 20 November, perhaps a few days earlier. This Thursday we are doing the inspections, so we will know a lot more then. Here is a link to the house:

Please pray that I would continue to recover from the chemo and the bronchitis and that all would go according to God's plan with the house.

If I recover by the end of the week and the house stuff goes well, I am thinking of taking a quick trip to Tucson to visit friends and go to the Copperstate Fly In, which should be highly populated with kit Light Sport Aircraft for me to look over. Not sure about this though. A lot of things have to fall exactly into place for this to happen.

Elizabeth is doing well-pulling all A's and won another softball game last night. Deanna is excited about the house. I think she already has the whole furniture plan laid out in her mind!

Deanna's brother has been so generous to let us live in his house this past year with everything we've been going through. Thank you Scott. You have provided not only a roof over our heads, but a home as well, when I could not. I will miss this house a lot.

Maybe our time in the desert is at an end, and the promised land is now in sight.

Thank you all and we will update again later this week.

God Bless,

Hey everyone - I thought I would tack this on to Mike's post about Concurrent Receipt.

A House-Senate conference committee tasked to iron out any differences between separate versions of the fiscal 2010 defense authorization bill decided in early October to drop the House concurrent receipt provision from the final bill. Senate conferees said the House plan to pay for this provision would have violated Senate budget rules. So the bottom line is that Congress has failed this year to pass any part of President Obama’s plan to phase in concurrent receipt for “Chapter 61” retirees forced by disabilities to leave service before completing 20 years.

I don't even know how to express the disappointment we feel right now. I wish that those that are in the Senate could walk just one month in our shoes. Yes, we do have medical care but this month alone I have spent $1036 on supplements/vitamins/ special food for Mike. Truth. Most likely spouses are caregivers and that makes working very difficult. God will provide and we will trust, but if this stirs your heart, please email your Senators and let them know what you think.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Stiff neck and hard heart

Dear Friends,

After Beetle's trip to Florida, he and Pam stopped here again on the way to Tucson. They got weathered in and we were blessed to have them stay with us for several days. There were no more airplane rides due to the weather, but that was okay because it allowed us more time to talk.

I am considering building and flying an aircraft, what is known as a Experimental-Light Sport Aircraft. Beetle's RV has a smaller sister that fits into this category called an RV-12. I've also been looking at the Sonex, the Kit Fox, the Sadler Vampire. We also discovered that about 1.5 hour drive east of here is the American Legend factory where they build a much improved Cub. They have a program where you can go to the factory and build your own aircraft using all their stuff, and with their experts on hand to prevent you from fouling it up. Beetle and I drove out for a visit and we were both very impressed. Those guys at American Legend really have their act together.

After a few days of this, the weather broke, and our dear friends flew out back to Tucson.

House. We have chosen a bank to do our Texas vet program mortgage. I suppose financing will be in place around 28 October and then we will have to make some difficult choices quickly. We're still watching the existing home market and talking with 3 builders. Nothing that really fits us has surfaced yet. God's timing, not ours.

We've been told the HAP program is now processing applications, so we should hear our decision soon. Would certainly help with the new house.

On a related note, Deanna ran across an article that stated a joint congressional conference last week on the 2010 NDAA (military budget) had decided to chop concurrent receipt for Chapter 61 retirees. Boo. If you haven't written your congressman yet about this one, you should consider doing so.

Medical. I'm on day three of seven chemo days for round two. The first day hit me pretty hard, the next two days not as bad. Red and platelets are holding, but the white count has dropped to 1.5 or so, and I'm once again confined to just the house and the clinic, so as to avoid any infectious germs. I am hoping to go to Copperstate Fly In with Beetle in Arizona right after this round of chemo, but that won't be possible with this white count. Many of the kit planes I'm interested in will be there. We'll just have to wait and see I guess.

I lost about 4 pounds last week, despite feeling full all the time from five rounds of tube feeding (around 2200 calories) per day. And my fatigue is worse. Not quite sure why. Let's just say it's detox symptoms from lots of cancer cells dying, okay?

I'm happy to report that Granny is doing much better. After doing a bunch of internet research and talking to a homeopathic expert, we sent her some neem oil, which comes from a tree in India that they have apparently used to repel all sorts of bugs for a long time. She says it appears to be working. The spots are healing and she can't find a single bug now. Apparently neem oil really does work against scabies. And it's probably better for you than the conventional medical treatment, permethrin. (Do you really want to ingest a pill with insecticide in it? I think this is the same stuff they used to issue us in the Air Force to spray all our deployment gear with as a bug repellent..and they told us NOT to get it in our eyes/mouth etc. Here, just open your mouth and I'll spray some RAID in for you.)

I have been quite frustrated and low lately over not being able to eat anything for so long. I have to admit it's been getting to me. It's an act of discipline sometimes to be thankful. After thinking about this, I realized I was being a lot like the Israelites in the desert, complaining about the lack of water, the lack of bread, and then the lack of meat, until God graciously provided water, manna, and then the birds (quail?) for them to sustain them. And then they just complained more. The airplane ride might have had something to do with it as well; it was a wonderful experience, yes, but also a reminder of how much we've lost.

Through my fabulous wife, God has provided me with my green fluid concoction that miraculously sustains me. Through Beetle, God has reminded me that I still have skills in the cockpit, and that they may come into play again in the future. After all, doesn't the book say that God gives us gifts in order to perform works that He prepared for us before the beginning of time? I will be thankful for these things, not an endlessly complaining Israelite. Yeshua, please keep my heart from going hard, and my neck from going stiff, that I might always recognize and rejoice over your miracles.

Prayer Requests. Healing for me, for my soul first and then for everything else. Wisdom for me and Deanna as we get nearer to decision time about the house. For the HAP program and for Chapter 61 concurrent receipt to both get approved. Blessing and protection for Elizabeth as she deals with the challenges of middle school.

Many thanks and Yahweh Bless You!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Flying High - A week off

What a week it has been! Our wonderful friends, Gary (Beetle) and Pam Bailey, flew their plane in from Tucson to visit on the way to Pensacola. They managed to beat the t-storms and then God gave us the perfect day to fly. We elected to pull Elizabeth out of school on Friday right before lunch and Beetle took her up for a plane ride. Mike was a proud daddy to buy her a Pilot's Log book and Beetle logged her first hour for her! Elizabeth got in the plane after some coaching from Mrs. Pam and off they flew. Now this plane is fast and very maneuverable. They flew low down the runway and they shot off up and to the right of the field. They flew over Lake Lavon. He pulled 3 G's with Elizabeth. She thought is was very cool that she couldn't lift her legs or feet. She did an eolian roll (360 roll) and even took the stick and flew. That is until they came across some birds and Beetle then took command again. It was great!

After Elizabeth, Mike had a turn. He got in the plane and said, "Now I am home." They were off and Beetle let Mike fly most of the time. I sat on the ground and teared up beside Pam. Mike deserves this. He deserves the joy. He has fought so hard. Endured so much. This ride was more than a ride. It was joy to his person. He loves to fly. He loves it. I pray someday God will remove obstacles that will allow him to use his passion again to further God's plan in this world. Mike landed and had absolutely no medical issues. None. He had no pain, no gas, no woozy feeling, nothing. It was a thought in the back of our heads. Who knows how things would react?? Mike was so happy and I was so happy to see him so happy!

To Beetle and Pam, thank you for stopping. Thank you for loving our Belle. Mike said that as they were flying Mike said to Beetle, "Not bad for someone who was supposed to be dead 10 months ago." Beetle responded in prayer. Mike and Beetle flew through the sky praising Jesus for His incredible gift.

As this picture shows, life is good right now. Thumbs up in a way. We have managed to stay out of the hospital for 3 months now. Mike is holding. His weight is holding. His blood is holding. Mike saw the doctor again this morning and he did a extended belly feel session. Again, nothing. His liver is soft and no obvious signs of cancer tumors. It is a huge miracle. We are in fact doing something that we haven't done in a very long time... dream and plan. At first, you couldn't even commit to tomorrow, much less next week. I noticed the change a few weeks ago. We started timidly back into the pool of next week, next month, and now even 4 months down the road. It is scary. The best visual I could give would be like getting into the pool for the first time in the spring. The pool is cold so you start by putting your toes in. Then your feet. Then your legs. You might even step out of the pool and then venture back in. You get up the courage to get your belly wet and then take a deep breath and stick your head under. I am not sure where we are at in the "pool process", but we are definitely getting wet. We are still thinking of houses, of Thanksgiving, even Christmas. All dreams. Thank you sweet Jesus... Thank you.

I will end this blog with the best picture of all... a picture that by all medical means shouldn't be (Someday, I will quit saying that!). A beloved Father and his precious daughter captured by a "on her knees rejoicing Jesus for this day" mother and wife!

Prayer needs:
Mike's health and blood counts
Health for entire family as the flu season kicks into high gear
A home for us
Jesus will continue to battle back this cancer
Titus and Evelyn
Dave Beaver and his ministry in Cleveland
Beetle and Pam
Friends far and wide
One more day as a family!