Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday Evening Update

The ultrasound revealed Mike has a couple of blood clots at the end of his PICC line in his arm. Sometime soon, they will remove the PICC line and put it in the other arm. Then he will go on blood thinners to help dissolve the clots.

The xray revealed that the pneumonia is the same so we are going to mix up antibiotics to see if we can clear it up.

Blood work continues to look good.

I am at home with a low grade fever and Wendy is now staying with Mike tonight. Please pray that I am over this in the morning so I can be with Mike.


Mike's kidneys continue to be on and off. They began to work and then stop and then work. So that is praise. Mike had an ok night, but has been struggling since about 5 am today. By struggling I mean restless and uncomfortable. Today we are checking everything to find out where Mike is... blood work, chest xray, and ultrasound. Actually the ultra sound is for his PICC line in his arm. His left arm is extremely swollen and I know he has a blood clot due to the PICC line. So most likely they will pull it and place it in the other arm. This is our routine with PICC lines it seems.

Melissa and Pat came up last night and we gave Mike a haircut and shave. He looks great. This is the "never thought in a million years" circumstance that we are in right now. Mike looks good. He is looking like he has put on weight. His skin tone looks good. His blood work is good. His vitals are good. Yet, Mike can barely communicate, he is on extreme doses of pain medicine, his legs aren't moving, and he is completely bed bound. To be healthy and yet sick at the same time. God continues to tweak us daily. I struggle with what is His will in this. Sitting hours upon hours, Lord what is you purpose here? What is my purpose here? But always trusting that God works all things together for His good.

I have to say that I am starting to feel sick today. I woke up around 7:00 with drainage and scratchy throat (not to say that I slept through the night). I just can't get sick. Please pray health for me. Wendy is coming up today after church and I am going to go home to nap. Maybe a long nap will help. Night time is hard. Last night, I was sound asleep and the respiratory therapist came in and touch my hand, woke me up out of a dead sleep, and nearly scared me to death. She woke me up to ask if she could give Mike a breathing treatment. Honestly, I was angry but what concerns me more is how I keep this up. I don't even know how long it has been now. 3 weeks with only 2 nights at home... yet He needs someone here with him. He pulls off his oxygen mask and he needs someone to request pain meds if it gets out of control. I know things can turn quickly, but Mike is a fighter and I see this being our life for a while.

I will post more later when I get results from all tests. Much love to everyone...

Mike to show improvement in all areas, God to fight cancer battle, hedge of protection from my sickness, rest, healing, legs to move, arm to heal, more communication, for Mike to keep O2 up. He hates the mask and is always pulling it off
Deanna - strength, health, mental stamina
Elizabeth - health, joy, and to know God more and more
Wendy for everything... She is a blessing to me.

Friends, family
Church online so we can worship in the hospital
sunny days

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Saturday morning prayer request

Please lift Mike's kidneys before Jesus. He has not produced urine in over 12 hours now. Our Lord is more than able.....

Friday, February 26, 2010

Standing Guard

I know people are checking this blog every day and I apologize for the 24 hour break. Mike is the same to slightly better. His lab work continues to be good (kidneys, liver, blood counts, etc) as well as vital signs and oxygen levels. His heart rate is high but his mouth and all other things are improving. We have gotten the pain to "almost contained", I think. He has periods of rest and sleep and that is good for everyone. He continues to talk, though not as much. He is very aware of what is going on.

I slept at home last night and left the hospital for a total of 20 hours. Why you ask? Because our dear friends (Max, Roxanne, Payton, and Landon Maxwell) from Florida arrive. They are PSCing from Hurlburt to Davis Monthan AFB. They got to the hospital around 7:00 pm on Thursday and Max came in and said I want to stay the night here with Mike. You go home and spend girl time, sleep, and take your time tomorrow. I will be here with Mike. I cried because I was so tired and I had just mentioned to Wendy that I will need a night at home soon. I tried to argue, but he took a stance besides Mike. He was standing guard over him and I knew that I could leave. Actually, I chuckled to myself and told everyone the nurses are going to welcome me back with open arms. They just thought I was demanding and nosy. I saw Max was on guard. It really touched me beyond words. He was standing guard as a friend. He was standing guard as a Christian brother. He was standing guard over his fellow Airman. I saw in his stance the AF creed... yet another wingman here at our side. This time the wingman comes on behalf of Hurlburt and AFSOC. Really Max standing guard was the physical presence of an entire group of Airman.

The timing was perfect. The fresh wind, fresh strength, fresh perspective, fresh fire, and inspirational words were what we both needed. Mike definitely needed the testosterone. Mike is constantly surrounded by women, so having a man sit down and talk shop to him helped stimulate that side of his brain. Max said that he was talking to Mike and he asked him if he knew who he was and Mike said "Max".

I spent the day with Roxanne as well. Actually, I slept late and then she went with me to run errands. But it was girlfriend time. We went to lunch too. I left Elizabeth at home with Payton and Landon. I let Elizabeth stay home from school and they spent the day in Wii world. After lunch, we went back to the house and loaded up the van to head to school. Today was the "Autobiography Gala" day. Elizabeth has been working on this project for 2 months. She wrote her own autobiography and it is incredible. She has a gift of putting words on paper. Honestly, it shocked me how good it is. But she had the opportunity, along with 22 other authors, to show her work. So Roxanne, Wendy, Payton, and I went to the event. Everyone was impressed. We also had to take some sort of treat for the kids. So I called up my friend Deeann and asked her to make cut out and frosted book cookies. Elizabeth handed her a list of her class with the titles of their autobiography. Deeann went above and beyond and created a book cookie to correspond with the autobiographies. Elizabeth was able to hand them out to everyone. The kids were thrilled, so much so that most didn't eat them but took them home with them.

It was such a good day. I haven't seen Elizabeth so Elizabeth in a long time. She is glowing and so "Elizabeth" today. I am typing this at 10:00 pm at night and I am not falling asleep. The only hard thing about the day is that I want Mike to be right beside me. To see everything, to read the books, to join the conversation....

Prayer needs:
Mike's brain, cancer, lungs, organs, mouth, limbs. That God continue to completely heal Mike.

Air Force
Checks that continue to arrive as loving gifts - thank you
Cards (Shelly - I heard you in your note!)
Text messaging (Elizabeth lost her basketball game.. but that's ok because softball starts this week)
Beautiful roses in the room
Kathy for making calls
Deeann for cookies
That I can be here next to Mike and have so many things to praise Jesus for. His care is overwhelming even in the storm!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Just a quick up date for today. Mike had a better night last night. He was up until about 3:30 or so and then he went to sleep until 8:30. He was up until about noon and then after a good suctioning, went to sleep and is still sleeping. I have to admit the quiet time is wonderful and have been able to dose in a chair until the head bob wakes me up. I also had to admit that I was begging Mike to go to sleep last night so I could sleep. He kept wanting me to hold his hand and who am I to turn that request down?

The doctor came by and I told her we are almost there with the pain management. But she is quick to remind me that it will take more and more as he becomes tolerant to the pain medicines. But in the same breath, the more pain medication the more chance of respiratory suppression. Mike's left arm is swelling most likely due to a blood clot with the PICC line. The PICC line is still working and we may try a small dose of medicine to bust the clot, but there is not much to do about it. That is because Mike has a heparin allergy and using blood thinners might (especially in his case) cause bleeding in the brain. The doctor and I briefly talked about if the pain becomes settled, what is the long term plan. While I don't think 12 hours of pain management means we have things under control, I do understand what she is talking about. Honestly, I have explored a few options with no clear vision. I am just going to keep praying.

I had another wonderful man stop by today. Actually three, one brought lunch, one brought tea, and one brought prayer. Not bad huh? Craig Nedrow stopped by. He is founder of "Stand Up 4 Jesus" ( and said Mike is going on a huge prayer list that goes around the world. Everyone knows I am such a visual person, but this picture came to mind when he said that. Mike is hanging over the edge of a cliff and he is holding on to a rope. On top of that cliff, is the other end of that rope. Elizabeth and I are holding on. Then my family. Then friends. Then strangers and everyone is screaming in unison, " Pull! Pull!" But really the pulling is praying. And more and more people and joining and we are doing everything we can to defeat this battle, knowing that God is in control. Maybe a better picture would be like Mike is a balloon floating up towards God. Because he is definitely not headed for an endless abyss! But thank you for holding on with us. For praying. For loving us.

Tonight, I am leaving the hospital while Wendy is going to stay her. Elizabeth has her last basketball game tonight at 8 pm. Finally, I want to leave everyone with this:

I can count a million times people asking me how I can praise You with all that I've gone through. The question just amazes me. Can circumstances possibly change who I forever am in You? Maybe since my life was changed long before these rainy days it's never really ever crossed my mind to turn my back on you, oh Lord. My only shelter from the storm. But instead I draw closer through these times. So I pray bring me joy, bring me peace, bring the chance to be free, bring me anything that brings You glory. And I know there'll be days when this life brings me pain, but if that's what it takes to praise You Jesus, bring the rain.
I am Yours regardless of the dark clouds that may loom above. Because You are much greater than my pain. You who made a way for me by suffering Your destiny. So tell me what's a little rain. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.

Prayer needs:
Mike's healing - arm, cancer, breathing, organs, talking, walking
Medical wisdom from God
Direction on a plan for Mike and his care
Sleep... Sleep... Sleep

Mercy Me and the song "Bring Me Rain"
Kathy and Evelyn for everything they did
Minnie for flying in to help
Wendy for moving in
Text messaging... love it...
One more day

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A precious moment

Over the past 36 hours, I have experienced every kind of emotion from absolutely livid to joy beyond what words can describe. I will do my best to explain what has been going on, but have to leave out things so I don't get myself in trouble.

Things kind of came to a head yesterday. Mike's pain was out of control. His bed had been broken for 24 hours and then the doctor came by when I stepped out and left with no concern about Mike being in pain. I hadn't slept in 24 hours and I had had it. I called in the troops and we went about trying to find another hospital to transfer Mike too. Mike didn't deserve this. So my troops rallied and what has been going on has been made known. Unfortunately all hospitals are full and there are no beds. We ended up having one of those meetings and everything is out in the open. We have a new doctor who hopefully understands managing pain and not just shooting in the dark. Things have been better today and so far, Mike's pain has been somewhat under control. Better, but not perfect yet.

So while this is all going on, Mike starts talking. His tongue is still swollen but you can just make out what he is saying. At the first of the day it was "hurts". Then "Mama help me". Then it progressed to "Deanna hold my hand" "Move my left knee it hurts" "Rub my arm hurts". That is just hard to bear and also what led to the very shortened story above. But then, as I was crying and telling him if the pain is too much that Elizabeth and I would be ok, he told me "Oh mama, it will be fine". Then he started saying our code word. Then, at one incredibly glorious moment, I told him that this was the best valentines present ever (meaning him communicating after so long). Our heads were very close and he said "Ahh..." reached up and rubbed my head and pucker his lips. I bent down and kissed him.

That was a life moment. Priceless. Worth everything. I am amazed at Mike's will to fight and will to live. The cancer is raging, but go God. The charge nurse who was on the night Mike came out of the ICU and back to the floor to pass away was here last night. She said hello to Mike and Mike turned to her and said hello. She said, "Mr. Phillips, you amaze me!" We talked about that night and how death hung near then. Yet here we still are and I will continue to fight for Mike as long as he fights. All the while, I have taken my direction from God and from Mike. The cool thing was that Mike confirmed yesterday things I have been telling people/doctors all along. You get asked that question a lot when people think you are acting out of the "distraught wife" mode. What would Mike want? or What would Mike say? He would say exactly what he has said, " The battle belongs to the Lord" and " don't worry Mama, God will take care of it. It will be fine".

So here we are still in a ferocious battle. The cancer is spreading everywhere, and yet Mike is still living. His vitals are good, his blood work is good, no signs of anything shutting down. The pneumonia is better and lungs sound clear. I know what the battle is. I know what cancer does. But I refuse to take Jesus out of the equation. I refuse to loose all HOPE. Because the Lord I serve has all authority and all power. I see the writing on the wall, but I hear the Voice of Truth in my heart and head.

Mike and pain relief
God to continue to show his hand and His might for His Glory here
Sleep.... Sleep... sleep
Elizabeth appears to be working on a cold... Healing for her and protection for all of us

One more day
precious moments

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cancer spreading - now in Mike's Brain

Some interesting things have happened over the last 24 hours. Mike has been have combative phases and yesterday I noticed that he was no longer moving his left arm. He is now only moving his right arm. I decided to risk the pain and go ahead and do a CT Scan. I wanted a whole body scan to assess the situation, but didn't get that. I did get the head CT and Mike's has two lesions that they can see. They are fairly confident that there are more that would show up if we did a study with contrast. We did it early this morning and waited all day for the doctor to tell us. In my gut I knew. I googled things last night and realized over the last few weeks, Mike has had every symptom. But hearing it spoken out loud is still hard to swallow.

I had a lot of questions for the doctor, which were all vague answers. It is so frustrating when all you want is the facts and they give you "I don't knows" or "well we know he has cancer". YES... I know.. But they don't understand the fight we have walked. The thing is his lab work is great. His heart is strong. His organs are functioning. Yet, we have cancer just on a all out assalt in Mike's body. Decisions are hard. Mike has brief moments of Mike like touches and recognition to voices. So tomorrow, with help for some people, I am looking in to other options, with possible transfer to another place. But that will take some time, some paperwork, and some research AND insurance approval on both sides!

I did tell Elizabeth tonight that they found cancer in Daddy's brain. I told her it explains why Daddy doesn't' talk and his behaviors. I can handle this. Mike can handle this. Elizabeth is so fragile. The roller coaster is almost more than she can bear. I pray for her so much.

I am just tired. Last night was not a restful night for Mike and therefore not for me. I tried to sleep in the morning and then they came for the CT Scan. I had to help the guy push Mike's extremely heavy sand bed with IV pole down to do the scan. The funny thing is the guy who did the scan left Mike out in the hall to wait on the tech to push him back upstairs. He looked at me and said he should be just a few minutes and then he turned to leave. I looked at him and said, "This bed is extremely heavy and we had a hard time pushing it down." He thought the tech could handle it. I said, "I am sure people would not be happy if they knew I was pushing this heavy bed with my husband in it back to the room." He then happily? helped the tech push the bed back upstairs. When I say this bed is heavy, it is heavy!! It is a special sand air mattress that they brought in to help Mike with the bed sores. The bottom half of the bed is fine sand and air pumps through to prevent pressure points.

I am sad to post this news. But God is not done. I will not take HOPE out of this, even to the last breath and beyond. I have really learned over this journey that God ordains every breath. Christ has conquered the grave leaving nothing to fear. We serve a God that is greater than cancer. He is here and we are holding on tightly, no matter what.

Mike complete earthly healing
Pain to ease along with combativness
Medical decisions
Medical direction with complete insurance support if we move Mike
Sleep for me..

So many people that are helping is big and small ways.
The layers of help that help me spend so much time by Mike's side. So many people are helping by helping those that help me. People are throwing out schedules and reworking. Husbands and kids are missing a parent, because they are with me at hospital. I am so grateful. So blessed. So loved.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


I was able to go home last night and watch Star Wars Clone Wars with Elizabeth and then go to sleep. I am still a little confused at how I fell asleep and slept until 8:30. Actually, just a tad guilty. But I KNOW that Mike would have wanted me to do that and I KNOW he was in very capable hands while I wasn't here. So thank you Jesus for watching over him and thank you Melissa for sleeping with Mike last night (sorry... just had to post it that way! LOL).

Well, Mike continues to amaze all. The nurses are just pulling for him and pulling for him. Every day we are hear, more and more people come out of the woodwork asking about him. Our nurse last night was so happy to see us. She said she wanted to call all week to check on him, but was afraid. She didn't want to get bad news. Linda came in today and says he looks better. He is strong and all lab work is good. His pneumonia is better. His EEG was really inconclusive because he was moving around, though the brain waves were slow. But that could be due to medication. Mike continues to be in pain. He has outbursts and it is so hard to watch and not be able to do anything. He is on EXTREME levels of pain medication and sedation medications. We have also added another "brain" medication to see if that helps. There are moments and actions that are completely Mike. Not a lot, but a few. He is blinking again as well. I pray and I pray. I feel like I am missing something, but I don't know what. I don't know how to break this cycle of more and more pain medicines. I pray and I pray and I pray.... and then I pray.

Doug and Dena left today to go back to Omaha and Jeff leaves tomorrow to fly back to Germany. I can't even explain how much they will be missed and how awesome it was to have them here. They took care of every honey do list I ever had and then some. They battled it out of the Wii Sports Resort front. They laughed, cried, hugged, supported, questioned doctors, held Mikes hand, took care of me, and went to the moon and back for Elizabeth. All joy. Dear friends. AND here is what I know.... they were proxy's for everyone and you would be proud.

I am going to ask for one specific prayer for Mike....pain relief.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Frustrating day and then God sent us an angel named Amie

Mike is having more and more combative hours today. It is so frustrating in trying to get the doctors to understand that maybe we have missed something. It is incredibly difficult to watch and feel so helpless. Doctors think it is pain so they keep upping the pain medication. `I have been told there is a fine line between pain control and suppressing breathing. So I hesitate to push it too far. I don't understand how much further you can push it. I was able to talk to admitting doctor and then request neurological consult. Then I had to leave the hospital and go be mom.

Elizabeth had a reception tonight for a big project that she just completed for the gift and talented program here in McKinney. It is an autobiography. I am blown away. Her writing is so expressive and she can really tell a story. Doug and Dena agreed to stay up here while I left. So I went by KFC to bring our part of the potluck and then I went home to pick up Elizabeth. It felt so good to be home, even for a few minutes. Even the dog missed me! I had a short minute to go through cards and mail. Once again, I am blown away. Thank you Kelly and Jay and Angela. To Fish Bayou, I love you so much. I am coming to your church at some point. Your card really spoken so loudly and I could feel your emotional turmoil.

I took Elizabeth to her event and then we went to the hospital. God has answered my prayers. Our night nurse is Amie. She looked at the situation and said, I have worked over 15 years in a palliative care section of a hospital and I have a lot of experience in this area. Can we talk. For the first time in a week, someone heard me. Someone explained things to me. I expressed my concern about the over medication and she explained the following:

All of Mike's drugs come from the Opi family. Pain is like a bucket and when your body is healthy and you overfill that bucket, that is when you run the risk of respiration's stopping. But when your pain bucket is empty, you need to fill it up. And over time, your body become used to it and you need more and more to fill it up. This is a very simple explanation, but we have to do something. Mike is chewing his tongue in the pain episodes. So we significantly upped the drip and Amie is making sure that she is on top of the other drugs. I don't have to call. That helps because I fall asleep and Mike's moaning wakes me up. We want to get to the point where there is no moaning. To stay on top of the pain.

We also are going to do an EEG tomorrow to check brain activity to see what that will tell us. We will be getting a Chest Xray in the morning to check his lungs. The days are flying by and day and night blend into one right now. This blog may be all over the place because my mind is just wired with so many medical things, emotional thoughts, and life in general.

Melissa has given me a gift - she is going to stay the night here at the hospital and allow me to go home to sleep with Elizabeth. While Mike doesn't talk, I know that his first concern would be Elizabeth and if going home to let her sleep with me will strengthen her, then I am there.

I have to say, I have been meditating on Jesus's words in Gethsemane the night he prayed with the disciple....

"My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." and
"My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done."

While I can never truly comprehend what Jesus suffered for me on the cross, these prayers and pleas ring straight my heart right now. I don't want to be walking this right now. Mike doesn't want to be walking this right now. BUT more than all this heartache, suffering, and turmoil, YOUR WILL BE DONE. I am so comforted by knowing that God know the day and time that all of us will walk home to be with Him.

I have to tell you I want to share/blog about the different decisions that have been made and the whole hospice or not question. But in the end, the decisions Mike and I make may not be decisions others make. Each situation is different, but in the end no one, no medication, no action will shorten your preordained time here. Mike would be proud to have so many surround him, fight for him, and love on him. But in the end, it is Christ's love for Mike that enables us/me to keep walking.

All prayer requests are the same please add clear mind for me as I continue to make decisions.
Praising Jesus for one more day. Amie. Mommy and Elizabeth time. Dear friends and family.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tired... Short update

Sorry about skipping yesterday. I made the mistake of watching the Olympics instead of blogging and then Mike went into his combative mode until 4:30 am. So when he settled down, I passed out.

I constantly have David and Goliath in my mind right now. This situation is so big, so scary and it taunts me all the time. I know that we are in front of a huge giant right now with a sling and a stone. But, what the doctors don't understand is that God is standing over us. Mike is still here despite everything (or nothing if you want to look at it that way) that has been done. So I am walking in Faith here. Knowing that God holds every breath and every moment right now. I am not thinking too far in the future, because I don't know what the future holds.

Please continue to pray over Mike. Pray specifically for his mouth, his tongue, his brain, and his organs to function as God designed. Pray that the pneumonia will continue to heal. Pray for rest. Pray for Elizabeth. She wants Daddy to talk to her. Pray for me.

I am praising Jesus for the text ministry, for friends, for understanding, for support, and one more day. Thank you Jesus. This is the day you have made!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Praying for even more Miracles

Mike continues to defy and fight. The nurse pulled up his labs this morning and said really it is quite amazing how good everything looks. His kidneys are functioning, his liver numbers are down, everything looks good. His blood fell just below the threshold, so he is getting 2 pints of blood tonight.

Mike's mom was able to visit last night. It was hard for her, but good for Mike and everyone I believe.

There continues to be a flurry of activity at our house. I have yet to go home in a long time. But Doug, Dena, Jeff and Wendy have moved right on it. Doug and Jeff have tackled many projects on my "honey do" list and Wendy and Dena are keeping Elizabeth and the dog on track. Wendy talks about my kitchen cabinents and I wouldn't be surprised to see new tile or lights or something when I get home. I just makes me smile. Honestly, it sounds like so much fun and I only wish that Mike and I were there to be in the mix. But I am so blessed and so surrounded right now. I am still amazed and the calm and peace right now. I have always said that I have handed Mike over to Jesus, but this toughest test so far and that statement says a lot after everything we have been through. Mike continues to be combative. The neurologist came by and believes that Mike's lack of oxygen the other night as played a role and that his brain has suffered damage. But I believe something different and I really believe if that is the case, then God is going to do another miracle. PRAY OVER MIKES BRAIN FUNCTION.

Tonight, 18 years ago, Mike proposed to me here in McKinney on my parents couch. It has been on my mind all day. That simple "yes" and the incredible love and commitment that flowed from that decision. (which by the way is the same simple yes that we both said when Jesus called us to him and the same result..incredible love and commitment flowed). I love him so much and it hasn't changed. Mike is still my love after all this and always will be.

Doug and Dena stayed up here late tonight and helped calm Mike down and get him turned before they left. Doug asked if I needed anything before I left and I smiled. He said what? I said pray that you will shut this door and an incredible light will flow from this room and that when the nurses come in, Mike will be sitting up talking and completely healed for God's Glory. Can you imagine the impact that could have? It is such an overwhelming and incredible thought.

Again, I continue to read all comments to Mike because I believe he can hear everything. I haven't been able to get to email too often, but try. I haven't been able to retrieve all message on our home phone and I love getting the texts on my cell. Thank you. I am still in awe at the incredible calm within me right now despite everything. Thank you Jesus for the peace that passes all understanding.

Prayer needs:
Mike pray over his liver, his cancer, his pneumonia, his kidneys, his brain, his mouth and tongue, and his legs.
Sleep for everyone
Family and dear friends

Friends who are giving my family a break for a short time
Mike's mom coming here
Just the incredible nursing staff here.
Doug and Jeff - I stand amazed at their commitment to Mike. They are helping to turn him and comforting him, and telling stories...
The neurologist who was honest, but confirming that decisions I made are correct and left with "pray to God" - He has NO IDEA the amount of prayer that is going on. It makes me smile
Dr. Bo and his commitment to Mike.
Laughter - we have had great conversations in this room and there is laughter. Thank you Jesus.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I love this picture. Dena took this picture the other day without us knowing and just showed it to me. Mike is holding Elizabeth's foot and I am holding Mike's hand. You can see the bracelet Elizabeth made Mike - it says Jehovah - to go with his allergy bracelet and hospital bracelet. It is funny because when Elizabeth was little she would cry in the back seat. So Mike would reach back and hold her foot. It would calm her down. As she grew older, the action became known as "foot pie". So while Mike is not really aware during this picture, he was still calming his baby with a simple, loving action of foot pie.

Mike is holding and fighting. His oxygen rate varies from the low 80's to the low 90's. His white blood count is high, which indicates an infection. His red blood count is low and he might need a transfusion in a day or so. His lungs are very congested from the aspiration and he is doing breathing treatments every 4 hours and getting suctioned, which he hates.

I keep reminding him that "Nothing is impossible with God" just breath. Or I will say, "Mike all you have to do is breath and let Jesus to the rest". This road is uncharted. Never in our wildest dreams did we see this coming. But, we are walking every moment. Living every moment. Praising for every moment.

Thank you for your prayer and posts. So many wonderful friends and so many good memories.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Pray. Pray. Pray.

I don't know where to start this post. I am seeing amazing things before my eyes. Elizabeth too. Mike's condition is improving though still tough. His blood pressure is normal when it has been extremely low. His oxygen is at 100% when on oxygen. His breathing is so much better. His kidneys are working. They tried to turn Mike last night and he woke up. He was talking, though I couldn't understand because his mouth is so dry and tongue swollen a little bit. It took 4 nurses to keep him from getting out of bed.

Just a short time ago, Mike had no kidney output. He was beginning to swell. His breathing was extremely difficult. He had very low blood pressures and everything is changing without medication.

So this morning, I have called off hospice and put Mike back as a full code. I have told the nurses to get the doctors here. Mike is fighting..... God is moving...... So my job is to be in prayer, listen for His direction and act on behalf of Mike. You should have seen it last night. After Mike settled down the nurses went out in the hall and I went with them. I said," What is going on?" and the tech looked at everyone and said, "See I told you." The nurses said, "That man was awake and is strong." "His strength shocked me" "That man isn't in a coma".

I am praying and asking for continued miracles. The battle does belong to the Lord. Mike's life here on earth is in a delicate balance right now. Every minute is precious. Every breath is ordained by God. Please continue to join me praying for Mike and for Godly wisdom in walking this uncharted road. However, I am in a really good and peaceful and confident place right now where ever this road leads.

(I have read all comments to Mike and continue to be in absolute awe and joy and strength from everyone.)

Friday, February 12, 2010

One more day

Time is getting more and more precious with every minute. We are still in the hospital trying to arrange hospice at home. We are not sure Mike is strong enough to go to our physical home. We are waiting on the hospice nurse to evaluate the situation.

We have had some amazing moments. Last night as we were transferred out of ICU to a private room, Elizabeth, Melissa, Dr. Bo, Alexa, Erin, and I circle around Mike and pray incredible, powerful, healing prayers. It was electrical for lack of better word to describe. As we were praying, different Ministers from around the US called and prayed for Mike over speaker phone. Col. Weigand called and prayed for Mike over the speaker phone. It was powerful.

Please know I read every comment to Mike today and to our dear Boneman, Doug and Dena are on the way from Omaha and Jeff and Wendy are on their way from Germany. Wingman to the core. Thank you.

We are holding fast to our Savior and know that victory is a short time away. Thank you God for sending your Son to die for us on the Cross and that He rose on the Third Day. Mike's home is waiting for Him and as the song says, "It is Well with My Soul". I can not end this blog without letting you know that the incredible peace that we have is available to you if you don't know what we are talking about. Read John 3:16 and know that everyone falls short and everyone sins, but Christ took that sin for you on the cross.

Take you Jesus for one more day as a family. One more day...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Reminding myself that This is the Day the Lord Has made and I will Rejoice and be glad in it

It is an incredibly beautiful day outside. It has been snowing sometime now. We are expecting 6 inches of snow and yet I am looking at it from an ICU window as my beloved is laboring for every breath. My wonderful, brave husband who has fought so hard and is continuing to surpass time lines even now. Oh how I love him.

Mike aspirated during the procedure and things went down hill from there. He has had a few seizures, but he is clinging to Jesus. The second to the last thing he said is, "Ok Lord, the Battle belongs to you."

Elizabeth has been with us through it all. The nurses brought in a bed and she slept in the ICU room with us. She is a brave soul and brings laughter and joy. She went outside and collected snow and made a snowman for Daddy.

We love you and please pray that Jesus does the "parting of the Red Sea Miracle". I still believe He can.

Praising for one more day together as a family.

mike in icu fighting the battle belongs to the Lord - wendy fly in

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Procedure at 3:00 pm CST

Today, Mike is going under at 3:00 pm for the pain block. Mike requests prayer specifically for miraculous super natural healing. He is asking God specifically that they go in and the tumor that they say is there is not.

I ditto that and ask specifically that all hands laid on Mike be God's hands. That he directs all treatment, care in every way regarding Mike. I specifically ask that His presence be so literal that the Doctors and nurses talk about this specific procedure for years to come. I can literally see it right now.

I will post more today, but it will probably be very late.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Energizer Bunny

As of now, it seems we have turned a corner on the pain. We have not done the nerve block. It is schedule for tomorrow. The doctor who is doing the procedure came in and talked to us about the risks and benefits. There is a very the possibility that Mike will go through it and it will not work. So I am praying that it will work and allow us to control the pain to continue this fight.

The bone scan brought us good news on two fronts, that cancer is not in Mike's bones and it means that the pain is nerve related. We know the tumor is very near the celiac nerve area in the abdomen. All this pain could literally be centered there and this procedure could solve or reduce the that issue.

The pharmacist in the hospital stepped in and helped with the pain issue in the mean time. Mike was on a continuous drip and then would buzz the nurses for breakthrough pain. So for the past 24 hours we were buzzing the nurses every hour. The problem was that sometimes they can't get it fast enough and the little pain would escalate and now we were behind the pain. So today Mike is on a continuous drip and a "clicky" as we call it so he can self medicate when the pain first starts to appear. It has worked for the past 5 hours and I am hopeful that it will continue working through the night.

Tonight, Mike started laughing and I asked him what was up. He was looking at all his cords, machines, iv's, etc and said this would make a great Energizer Bunny commercial. "I have stage 4 cancer, but I keep going and going and going." We both giggled because it is funny. The past week has been difficult and everywhere we turn there is bad news - but the Hope is still there. I have heard it all, been given time lines, told what should happen, but Mike is the ultimate Energizer Bunny and God is the battery. He gives us strength, power, Hope, and keeps going and going. Nothing can stop Him. Death didn't stop Him either. As an incredible minister in North Carolina prayed in a prayer call over the cell phone last night - Kingdom Vision. We will always keep our eyes on Him.

Please pray specifically for this procedure to work tomorrow and that there are no complications and that Mike tolerates going under for it. Pray for Elizabeth. She is missing her Mom and Dad. Pray for a restful night. Please also pray for Mikes Grandmother. She is in the hospital in Elyria for bleeding.

Again, I am praising Jesus for the tide of prayers, the great comments, wonderful emails, phone calls, and help - Gini, I now have 3 deodorants in my possession... I really did need it and I guess others noticed!! LOL!!

Good News

Mike told me to get on the blog and let everyone know that the Bone Scan was negative for cancer. Praise Jesus! Mike told me he wanted to post some good news for everyone since it has been awhile. I thank Jesus for every joy He sends our way. Mike also wanted me to post Psalms 118:17 from him. That verse states:

I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.
I will post more tonight once all doctors make the rounds. Please pray that the nerve block procedure will happen today and that it will be successful

Monday, February 8, 2010

Welcoming the Angels

The night was somewhat better last night, that or I just was so tired I slept through things. Mike went down early for the J tube placement and was in pain even under sedation. I just can't seem to find the words right now. Pain seems to be the theme of the day. Trying to get the pain under control and get Mike comfortable. It is just surreal right now and I am a little numb. We have changed Mike's pain medicines again to stay on top of things. He has been throwing up so we haven't started the J Tube feedings. Just keeping him on TPN for now.

Mike is going in for the celiac block tomorrow. Please...Please pray with me that it will work and take away pain Lord Jesus hear our prayers!

Elizabeth was up here tonight when Mike came back in horrible pain after the bone scan. Melissa and I were trying to get him comfortable and Elizabeth said the angels are right there and she pointed to three places. She left with Melissa to go to a basketball game and I texted her. I said by the way, I feel the angels here too. Thank you for confirming my feelings. She texted back:
I left them for you and Dad. I don't know, I can just feel them when they are at a certain place like tonight.
I read the text to Mike and his response? He said to the angels, "Welcome Friends. Welcome Angels."

Mike is in terrible pain, however all his other labs, blood work, pulse, oxygen, blood pressure are good. I am praying that tomorrow will be the day we turn the corner..

Thank you (especially family) for all comments, texts, calls, emails, visits, food, snacks, deodrant, help, and as always prayers. I just can't respond to everything right now but we feel completely wrapped in God's Hands by your outpouring.

Much love to everyone.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Long Night and Day.. NOT letting go of our Savior

I stayed with Mike in the hospital last night. The pain for Mike is pretty significant. He is hurting in his back and abdomen and continues to be weak. Prayers have been flowing. I have had a lot of help from family and friends. We put Mike on a morphine pump this afternoon and then had the doctor add another pain medication to help with the break through pain. We finally got on top of the pain around 5:00 pm this evening. We also put a Foley catheter in so he wouldn't have to get up to go to the bathroom. It has gotten to the point where he didn't have the strength to pull his legs on the bed after he collapses into bed after going to the bathroom.

I want to make it clear that we are not done fighting but the battle is huge. This afternoon was extremely hard and Mike has been in the worst pain and calling to Jesus. I do love him for that. Even in his most severe moments, he is calling to Jesus. That is how firmly he is planted with the Savior. AND we are not letting go....

Mike as asked me to blog that he says thank you for the prayers and please keep pouring it on.

I am asking to you pray for Elizabeth and my family and local friends that are surrounding us right now. Things are changing all the time and everyone is bending so I can be here non-stop with Mike.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Answered prayers, hurdles ahead.

It was a busy morning. I slept late and got a call from Mike at 8:30 saying the GI doctor was here and he was going to be scoped. He was worried about the insurance paying for it. I had to reassure him that he was admitted through the ER and everything done while in the hospital will be covered. I hate that he is even worried about insurance paying or not. I told him that is my job. Don't worry. So I hopped in the shower, threw some clothes one, gave Elizabeth a list of what needs to be done at home and her schedule and headed to the hospital. I didn't make before they took him back, but thank God my Dad was here. I was able to say I love you over the phone to him and Dad was waiting for me in the waiting room. I praise God that we have a different GI doctor for this procedure. She is actually the doctor that did my Dad's colonoscopy about a month ago and the same doctor that will do my mother's later this week.

The procedure went longer than expected. She stretched Mike's esophagus and then moved into the stomach down to the bottom where the stomach empties into the intestines. It is called the duodenum (sp??). Haven't had time to research that yet. Anyway, that area is now thickening and they took a biopsy. It appears that the cancer has spread there. So the doctor stretched that area just like she did to the esophagus. This is good because it means that Mike's stomach will drain. Mike has been put on IV nutrition and on Monday will get a GJ Tube. The G tube will extend into his stomach and the J portion of that tube will go into his small intestines. In the meantime, we need to be in prayer about placing a stent down in that area. It is something that can not be done here at this hospital and we would have to go to one down in Dallas. I don't know about the insurance end of that so please be praying that if that is an option we choose, that the insurance will not be an issue.

So this new GI doctor is wonderful and such a blessing. As I was talking to her, I realized that God has answered a prayer that I have been praying for so long. She had options. She had ideas for pain management. She didn't suck the hope out of the air. AND her office doesn't take Tricare. My Dad mentioned Medicare and she said Tricare pays less than Medicare. (another doctor). BUT she also said she wished there was something better for these guys because they sacrifice so much to serve our country AND she said she would talk to her office manager and see if there was a way to take Mike as a patient as an outpatient. Thank you Jesus.

Mike is resting and is very low on energy. They are working on clearing his bowels and he is getting wonderful care today. The nurses are wonderful and the tech is one of the best we have ever had. We have many hurdles to jump here, but I can finally see the hurdles and that is an answer to prayer as well.

It is good to journal to see how God moves when you pray. I have seen very real prayers answered in very real ways today. I know God is listening and moving and therefore I fully believe that He has heard and is hearing my prayers about Mike's complete earthly healing and will answer them. In fact He is hearing the prayers for Mike all around the world. So I am on my knees, waiting, praising, and watching.....

Prayer needs:
Mike's strength, energy nutrition, pain, and for the cancer to die
Elizabeth and I as we try to maintain some sort of schedule during the days and weeks ahead
For the insurance to work out for all Mike's medical needs including this wonderful GI doctor
For the numbness in Mike's right foot. It is a side effect from Chemo and it has progressed with this last treatment.

God answering prayers
For the wonderful nurses in GI lab and on the floor. In fact, the GI nurse ran into me in the hall after she brought Mike back from the procedure. She said how much she has been praying for us and glad we had a good Christmas. She said how everyone asks about Mike and she even began to tear up. She cares for him so much. Thank you Jesus. I prayed that He would be with Mike in the procedure and provide incredible care as if it was me in there with him. He answered.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Back in the hospital

Mike is back in the hospital. Our home health nurse was concern about Mike's lack of bowel movements and called the doctor. The doctor told us to go to the ER. So off we went. However, Mike's back hurts so much. It hurts to stand and it hurts to sit up. My incredibly brave husband endured tremendous pain to get to the ER. I truly though he was going to pass out and I just sat there crying and driving. I hate that I can't take the pain away. I pulled up to the ER and ran in crying and he was put in a wheel chair and wheeled strait back to a trauma room. I parked the car and by the time I got back to a room, there was a flurry of activity. To make a long story short, Mike has a blockage at the bottom of his stomach and is partially blocking the entrance to his intestines. They think it is a tumor. This blockage is keeping the stuff in the stomach from draining out at a proper rate. The food is just sitting in his stomach. They have stopped the G Tube feeding and he is now on TPN for the weekend along with good pain medicine. On Monday, he will be getting a J tube which feeds directly into his intestines. Hopefully this will allow us to gain strength and weight to continue the fight with our still undetermined next step.

We are both tired, but that nagging feeling I have had that something wasn't right is gone. I feel like we are headed in the right direction.

Mike and all his medical issues - pain management, strength, and the cancer to die
Rest for everyone
Elizabeth and I and the emotions of it all

Kathy for dinner last night and ER stay
Rippees for loving on Elizabeth tonight
Dinner from Chick fila
Private room, new doctor, and a great Big God!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


We got home this afternoon. We originally coming home yesterday, but some weird stuff in Mike's stomach had to go to the lab to be evaluated for blood. Once they knew it wasn't blood, they released us to come home. It is different this time though. Yes, Mike is stronger, but he is in pain. His lower back hurts and they sent us home with a pill for pain and at this posting I am not sure if it is working. I finally pulled out the liquid morphine and gave him a dose. It took the edge off the pain. I am a little nervous about that and am having to start over learning a new process again. The kitchen table is full of new folders and instruction manuals. The new pump arrived, the new home health nurse came by, and I have 4 new medications to add to our daily routine. I am fine with all that. I will figure it out and it will become routine eventually. The pain is the unknown. For a minute there, I thought that I would have to load Mike in the car and take him right back to the hospital. But I think we are on top of it for now.

Elizabeth had her first ensemble competition (oboe) last night and they got a 1 plus rating and a medal. She is so excited and we are so proud of her.

Please continue to pray and ask everyone you know to pray. We still don't know our next move or where we should turn. I did call Cancer Treatment Centers of America today. They take Tricare STANDARD insurance (not Prime), but since it pays the same as Medicare (have you heard that before?) they only take a limited number of patients on Medicare/Tricare. The next new patient opening is in July.

Father God, we are seeking you and your direction....

I will post more tomorrow. But I do want to say two things. (1) Today is our 1 year retirement anniversary from the Air Force. (2) Our new home health nurse came over and we found out that there is another young military (Army or AF, can't remember) guy retired here in McKinney with young family that has Esophageal Cancer.... makes you think. I did ask the nurse to pass along our information. I would love to connect with them.

Prayer needs:
For Mike to not be in pain
For complete earthly healing for Mike
For medical direction
For rest
For God's will

Mike is home
Elizabeth and the joy she brings us
Our AF family. We love you!

Monday, February 1, 2010

One week - still here, but better

Mike is still in the hospital but what a difference a week can make. He is sitting in a chair looking out the window as I typed this. One week ago, he couldn't sit up without breathing hard. He had absolutely no energy. I think I have some blame in this hospital stay this time. I knew that Mike wasn't getting enough nutrition after that last round of chemo, but things seemed to be manageable. Then all of a sudden things just picked up steam like a ball rolling down a hill. Mike was also a little stubborn in this situation, but I am so thankful that we got here.

Mike is up to 60 ml per hour on the food pump. They want him to be at 70, so we are almost there. It is just taking Mike's stomach awhile to get used to eating 24 hours a day. We are also having some issues with the digestive tract and some fluid retention. His blood work is also slowly creeping down. We need to keep an eye on that as well, but THIS day is a good day.

Elizabeth and I continue to bounce between hospital and school. It got hard this weekend when she needed to be at home working on a huge project that is due in two weeks and I wanted to be here. (She needed help learning how to scan and incorporate graphics into her project). But for the most part, I think we did ok. Dad helped by spending time up here with Mike. I hate leaving him alone because you never know when the doctors are going to pop by and come up with something. For instance, on Friday I was up at school when the doctor came by. They had concerns about Mike not tolerating the increase of food. So the GI doctor (remember the one that said Mike should be on hospice back in September), the admitting doctor, and then another doctor felt Mike should get a GJtube. Basically, it is extending the feeding tube that Mike has into his lower intestines. Mike told the doctor that he wants to give the pump feeding more time. Next thing we know, nurses are here ready to wheel Mike down for the procedure. We told them no after a discussion. I think everyone wanted to get something done before the weekend if truth be told. The best thing is that it looks like at this point that was the right decision. Mike has managed to increase from 35 ml per hour to 60 ml per hour.
It is funny how much we have learned on this journey. For us, we are learning how to pray, listen and wait. Sometimes people/doctors want us to make these snap decisions, but we have learned to say wait, no, or we are still trying to decide our options. We have learned that our medical information is OUR information. That means that I can say let me see that blood work. I want a copy of that report. What leads you to make that decision. I have read about this treatment, is this an option for us? Why? I have also learned that you gain tons of information from other resources like nurses, techs, patients. It is a good thing to engage people in elevators, waiting rooms, etc. You never know what you will learn that might be helpful.
I will post as soon as we know if we are going home today. I don't want to be sent home without addressing a few issues like the fluid retention. But we have everything ready to go as far as Home Health for the feeding pump. I am hopeful...
Prayer needs:
Mike to gain weight and strength
Mike's back pain
The fluid retention and the digestive tract issue
Time management - there is so much going on this week with Elizabeth and her activities
VA - of course, we get a letter that Mike needs to go to the VA in downtown Dallas for an appointment this week. I called to let them know he is in the hospital but they won't discuss with me because we don't have a release of authorization on file. How we missed them, I don't know. Everyone else has it for us. I faxed one over, so hopefully I can get this settled. Minor issue in the scheme of things though!
Sleep for everyone
Dad for spending time with Mike in the hospital so I could at home
Mom for doing laundry for me
Meals this weekend and Baskin Robbins Ice cream cake in the hospital YUM! (even Mike ate some)
Lisa Tuttle is on the way to the hospital to visit with us from Florida!
Thank you to Millers, Grays, Irwins, and Webbers