Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday Evening

It has been a long day. I preached this morning after my discharge from the hospital on Sat. The sermon, "I love a parade" on three lessons that I glean from Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem. My strength was noticeably diminished but this may have been the result of dehydration.

After the worship service we went to Sarah's for lunch. We enjoy having her in the city. She arranged for us to go to the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Art. I will let you Google their names. He painted some stunning murals to honor the laborers of the auto industry. He was an ardent communist and described his work as revolutionary art. I would not put any of it in my house, even if I could afford it, but I enjoy reflecting on it every time I go to the DIA. It is powerful in its statement about the exploitation of the worker. I had to take a chair to rest as I listed to the narration of his life and work.

This week will be my recovery week. I am going to get a scan on Friday to see how much of the cancer has been destroyed. I am a little nervous about it. We are praying that the scan does not find any trace of cancer. I wish that I could really believe that God was going to answer that prayer. Lord, help me in my unbelief.

The people in the church are really helping out by making us meals. We are going to get one meal a week. The first came this weekend and its timing was perfect. Thanks everyone.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Home Again, Home Again


My WBC improved on Friday to such a level that Dr Terebelo was confident that I could go home again on Sat morning. This was good news. I did not want to miss another Sunday.

My strength improved on Friday. I felt as if I could go home that day but my lab report says that it is still not a good idea. This will give me a chance to watch MSU vs Oklahoma. Hopefully, MSU can pull another Big Ten upset.

I did not spend as much time in meditation during this hospital stay. I am not sure why. Concentration was more difficult for me. I wonder if it was due to my attitude. I just wanted to go home and did not want to accept the reality of the situation. I did not want to deal with tubes, pumps, frequent bathroom breaks.


Dr T told me at 8:00 am that he was discharging me. I was packed and ready to go by 9:00 am. My WBC was normal and there are no restrictions on me. Tomorrow Carol, Sarah and I will go to the Detroit Institute of Art to view a Diego Rivera exhibit. He romanticized the industrial aspects of Detroit. I would not hang any of his paintings in my house but he is interesting to view.

No Pleasure Cruise

No Pleasure Cruise

The last three days have past slowly by. I had some good visit by Vance Walker, Bob Cousineau and Clint Cozier. They helped to past the time. I slept a lot yesterday. My hemoglobin was low. I noticed a major change in my energy level after a transfusion.

Today is Friday. It is the first day that I really feel like concentrating on writing. The last two posts were forced. I am more relaxed this morning. Just returned from the Heart Institute. They did an echogram of my heart to make sure the chemo was not destroying it. I won't know the results till tomorrow.

This chemo is much harder than anything that I previously had. My body is feeling it. I still have four treatments before the bone marrow transplant.

I watched Bucket List last night. What a great movie. I need to meet a billionaire so that I could complete my bucket list. LOL. I have thought about such a list. However, I have one major problem. All my items require excellent health. Hike through Zion NP, Bryce Canyon NP, Yellowstone NP, Monument NM. Travel through England and Scotland.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Round #2

Treatment and reaction

Round #2 was a lot like Round #1. I had a neulasta shot to boost my white blood count a day earlier than for the previous treatment. We were hoping that it would prevent a fever.

The infusion of the chemotherapy was the easy part. Enduring the explosion that goes off inside the body was not. Monday was another difficult Monday. Aches and pains especially in the knees and the lower back. I got some work done after taking some Excedrin. I found out afterward that I am not suppose to take anything with acetaminophen. Won't do that again.

Tuesday was a lot like Monday. I had a spiritual direction appointment in the afternoon and felt really good. I was beginning to think that maybe the neulasta would prevent a fever. Wishful thinking. At 12:30 am my fever was 100.4 then at 1:30 am it was 102. Back to the hospital.

Ever try to get dressed shivering with a fever at 1:30 in the morning. That was a tough.


We arrived at the hospital and there was only 2 others in the waiting room. I thought that I would get into a room faster than last time. LOL.

My temperature was 99 but my WBC was too low to release me. They did not infuse me with antibiotics at the same rate as the first hospital stay but they told me that I needed to be admitted. This was at 3:00 am. However, the hospital was full. The next morning they moved me to step down unit in emergence. By lunch all the rooms were full. By 3:00 pm they had people lying in beds in the hallway. Providence Park has become a popular place. The Fellow for my Oncologist said that they had 23 waiting for rooms. He was able to prioritize a room for me. I finally got to my room about 8:00 pm.

Family Vacation

Driving to the Condo

After rushing to the airport we collapsed into our seats, thoroughly enjoyed the flight to Atlanta and then on to Ft Myers. Renting a car at 12:30 am is not the best option. We were given two cars from which to choose. The car was nice but I thought that it would be bigger.
Traveling is so much easier with the GPS phone app. I remember getting lost so many times driving from the airport to my destination. We did make a couple of wrong turns. The roads on the island are not easy to follow. That from someone who learned to deal with an intersection that brought together South Commerce, East Commerce and Commerce and the driver who is on Commerce still has to make a left had turn to stay on Commerce. Are you confused, that is my point. Anyway we finally found the condo and were given a hero's welcome by my children.

The Beach

The condo my mom rented was within 50 yds of the beach but our travel guide (a.k.a. Sarah) had plans for us for the first two days. We traveled up the island so Sarah and and Abby could go on a boat to a nearby island to snorkel. The next day we took them to rent kayaks. While they did their outdoorys stuff we laid around on nearby beaches and enjoyed the sun. Inara entertained herself with whatever was handy. Occasionally we would take her to the water and she would walk in the surf. She never seemed to have a preference for either water or sand nor an aversion.

Carol enjoyed searching for sea shells. We came back with boxes of shells. She plans on making many sea shell craft projects.

The only weakness that I saw on Sanibel Island was the type of sand. It is a grayish color, very fine grain, and very moist. It is very difficult to clean out of shoes, socks, between toes. We had sand in our suitcase when we arrived home.


About the third day Inara came into my room before I got of bed. I think she was sent to wake me up. To entertain her I pulled out my computer and connected to YouTube and played my Joan Baez videos. She enjoyed them bobbing and weaving to the tunes. From then on she rushed into my room and either pounded on my laptop or the bed to indicate that she wanted to hear the tunes. Baez has a very lovely song entitled Jerusalem.

The last few days were spent relaxing on the beach. We avoided sunburn, gathered lots of sea shells, and enjoyed our family time.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Florida Miracle

March 5 - Set back

On Tuesday I thought that the worst was over. I went to the office and tried to do some work. I noticed that I could not get warm all day. I figured that it was due to the lack of heat in the church. By mid-afternoon I was shivering. I went to supper with a friend and could barely control the shivering. I never even thought that I could have a fever.

After dinner I went home and took my temperature--102. I was suppose to head to emergency when it reached 100.4. Upon arriving at the hospital I received 4 antibiotics, given in 1/2 hour increments to watch for an allergic reaction. I was admitted to the oncology floor. Things were not looking good on Wednesday morning. The medical team was very negative about my plans to travel to Florida for the family vacation. They did not think that my infection fighting WBC would be at a safe level.

The hospital stay was uneventful, except for the WBC kept going downhill.

On Friday I spent sometime standing in a sunny window meditating. I visualized my WBC multiplying. I also sought God's guidance and offered my petitions. I really expected the counts to improve on Sat, however, they only moved from 70 to 190. It needed to reach 1000. Carol and I began to talk about alternative plans. Sat night I spent more time in prayer and meditation.

The Miracle

I went to bed Sat night a little discouraged. I assumed that under the best scenario, Carol would go on Sunday and I would follow on Tuesday maybe Monday if a miracle happened.

On Sunday morning the Fellow entered my room and announced that my count was 1240 and that I was going to be discharged. PTL

Carol and I had to rush around but we packed and drove to the airport in time to board our flight

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

March 3 - Recovery

Energy Rising

What a difference a day makes. I was miserable yesterday. My whole body ached, with flu like symptoms. The bone marrow was producing white blood cells and it hurt. A new medication newlasta puts the marrow in overdrive but my body was going full tilt before I even received the shot.

Today started out slow but with some Tylenol and a nice breakfast with Carol things began to turn. I am relearning the importance of pushing myself through pain. When I was in my 20s and 30s, I would run and do this. I got lazy after I passed 60. Each movement yesterday required determination and effort.

Good Intentions Just Don't Make It

I’ve recently been reading Andy Andrews book “The Noticer.”  Great book, claims to be autobiographical but is is a story that is hard to believe.

In it, the main character, Jones, asks a young man who is struggling to change:
“Five seagulls are sitting on a dock.  One decides to fly away.  How many are left?”

The young man answers: “Well… Four.”

“No,” Jones responded, “There are still five.  Deciding to fly away and actually flying away are two different things.”

Isn’t that the truth? This illness is forcing me to decide to do things and doing them to completion. I needed to relearn this lesson. I had gotten sloppy with my life.

The Walls are Shaking

A pump on the boiler in the building decided to spring a leak. We had water spraying all over. Good think we have an inventive custodian, Thanks Dan for your ingenuity.  The heating repair man is onsite. The whole building is shaking as he tries to pump water back into the system.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

February - Backtracking

Waiting for the News

After surgery I had to wait for the news on the biopsy. We were expecting cancer but hoping for something less severe. I was actually anticipating the worse. As Dr Terebelo told me the news a deep sadness rested on me. He tried to be hopeful but made sure that I knew that this was an aggressive cancer.

Kubler-Ross talks about the 5 stages of grief. I have found that those 5 stages relate to anyone encountering a crises-denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I think that I was in denial during the fall. The signs of a relapse were evident at the time of my first hospitalization--night sweats. I skipped anger and bargaining. I have been angry at God for other things but never the cancer. I recognize that there is no way you can bargain with God. He holds all the chips. So I jumped immediately into depression. After wallowing around for a few days I had to face reality.

Being a preacher has often forced me to address situation in my own life from the pulpit. (Hopefully without the congregation knowing that I was preaching to me not to them.) This was one of those times. Knowing that I had to stand up on Sunday morning and bring a message of hope to the congregation was very helpful.

The sermon was on the Transfiguration. It was more theological than experiential. It was not about me and my cancer but about the revelation of Jesus Christ. That gospel is a story that is not the creation of human myth and legend. It is a reality upon which gives me strength and hope as I walk through treatment. Those were my thoughts going through treatment. (I'll post the sermon latter. I would enjoy reading your comments about it.)

The reminder lifted my spirits and slowly the depression eroded. As the time for treat approached I noticed a change in my attitude. I am going to participate in the fight. I am going to place my trust in the power of God to heal, transform and resurrect.  I started nurturing a positive outlook that God still has things for me to do for is kingdom on this earth, and if not than to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21)